Evanston’s City Council this week voted to dissolve the city’s Flood and Pollution Control Commission and thanked board members for a job well done.

The commission was formed in 1975 to address capacity problems with the city’s combined storm and sanitary sewer system that caused frequent flooding of many Evanston basements.

The flooding created health hazards and property losses, and as Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, recalled, often had him bailing out his basement.

After studying the problem for several years, the commission persuaded the council in 1985 to require that one- and two-family homes disconnect their downspouts from the sewer system.

After that, the solutions got expensive. In 1990 the city began a program that has resulted in instalation of 50 miles of new sewer mains at a cost of $211 million. About three-quarters of the cost was funded with low interest loans from the state.

The commission also helped develop recently adopted rules requiring new developments to provide storm water retention facilities on site.

Long-time commission members Ned Lauterback and Margaret Wold received plaques for their service from Mayor Morton at the council meeting.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Dave Stoneback reported that this year despite more than 13 inches of rainfall last month, the city received only a few basement flooding complaints.

Officials say the improvements have reduced flooding problems so that the city should only experience street flooding on average once every 10 years and widespread basement flooding once in 100 years.

Twenty aldermen and nine private citizens served on the board over its 32 year life.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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