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From Landfill to Park: Stormwater Runoff as a Benefit, Not a Burden

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Abstract:

In 2002, the Stearns Quarry Landfill, a 27-acre former incinerator ash/construction debris landfill owned and operated by the City of Chicago, was at capacity and ready for closure. Stearns Quarry had begun operation around 1830 as a limestone quarry, then served as a depository for ash residue, and then for clean construction. The city's plan was to use sustainable measures to convert the landfill into a park that would also contain a fishing pond.

A significant challenge in implementing this plan was addressing stormwater runoff. State stormwater runoff regulations do not allow detention of water or ponding within the landfill, and require that all landfills have a minimum 3% slope to prevent ponding. Therefore, natural infiltration of water into the park was not feasible. However, the city's combined sewer system is already overloaded, and, to support its green initiative, the city wanted the stormwater to be reused. Specifically, the mayor wanted to create a bass fishing pond. A further challenge was the desire of local community representatives to showcase the exposed walls of the quarry.

The overall goals for the project were to close the landfill so that it could be converted into a park with a pond, while meeting landfill closure regulations, and to develop a stormwater management plan that would emphasize reuse, meeting the city's intent to conserve resources.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864708790893233

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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