Main Drainage Ditch Improvements

Subjected to frequent flooding, the disasters of 2008 exposed the extreme inadequacies of the City’s stormwater conveyance system. At that time, more than 1,550 residents had to be evacuated from the City of Watseka when four hundred and thirty homes, businesses and most of the schools were badly flooded. In an effort to alleviate future flooding, the City contracted a project to excavate a one mile stretch of ditch through the City.


The City worked in cooperation with 60+ property owners to obtain easements and purchase flood-damaged buildings. Seven roadway crossings were replaced with box culverts. The building involved had limited setbacks, so block retaining walls were installed. This feature provided both an aesthetic and structural benefit. Two 5-foot by 8-foot steel gates were installed at the ditch outlet to protect the City from flooding of the Iroquois River. The entire project was completed without any tax increase to the residents of Watseka.

Key Project Elements

  • Flood mitigation

  • Maintain access to residents during construction

  • Maintain the structural integrity of the buildings adjacent to the ditch

  • Public outreach and communication with individual property owners

  • Remove restriction in the Main Drainage Ditch

  • Promote public safety through the use of flatter, maintainable slopes in the ditch and protective fences

  • Relocate utilities (water, sewer, gas, electric)

Project End Results

  • Improved flood protection for the residents of Watseka

  • Increased stormwater conveyance through the City

  • Improved water quality for the Iroquois River watershed

  • Better vegetative uptake

  • Better flow and better sealed pipes (sanitary sewer pipes); less I/I

  • Eliminated hazardous ditch slopes

  • Installed 7 new box culverts and reconstructed road crossings

  • Secured easements for future preservation of the channel


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