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Will County Announces Full Opening of Warm Water Siphon into Kankakee River
Mike Theodore
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Will County Announces Full Opening of Warm Water Siphon into Kankakee River

The Will County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) has coordinated with Constellation Energy to activate all three siphons of warm water from the Dresden Energy Center cooling lake to accelerate the melting of ice on the Kankakee River. This decision follows a declaration of emergency by County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant due to the historic flood levels and ice jams along the Kankakee River.

“By opening all three lines of warm water into the river, we can begin melting the historic levels of ice that has created a public safety risk for nearby residents,” said County Executive Bertino-Tarrant. “This is a crucial step to safeguard lives and protect property in communities along the river. I’m urging residents to remain alert for the potential of flash flood conditions as ice begins to thaw.”

County Executive Bertino-Tarrant signed a disaster declaration on January 17 due to flash flooding and flash flood watches that have occurred in unincorporated Will County and the City of Wilmington. The emergency conditions are due to flooding levels reaching 13.5 feet of water, surpassing previous incidents in 2019, 2021, and the major flooding event of 1985.

“I would like to thank Constellation Energy for supporting the opening of all three warm water lines to alleviate current conditions,” said Will County EMA Director Allison Anderson. “Residents should be advised that flash flood conditions can still occur as the ice begins to melt and water begins flowing freely. Our team will remain on the ground with local officials to monitor conditions until the ice fully melts.”

The full warm water siphons will be activated at 12PM on January 18. This follows the activation of one warm water siphon line on the morning of January 17. While the warm water siphons will only partially impact the ice jams along the river, they are expected to accelerate the melting of ice and minimize the negative impacts of rapidly melting ice once the weather warms.

“Thank you to Constellation Energy for being a good neighbor and supporting the full release of warm water to address this crisis,” said Will County Board Member Joe VanDuyne of Wilmington. “The activation of all three siphons will provide relief to the impacted communities, including the City of Wilmington. I appreciate the efforts of County Executive Bertino-Tarrant and Will County EMA to coordinate with local officials and residents during this emergency.”

Residents along the river, especially those in low-lying areas, should still take precautions and be prepared to evacuate with short notice. This includes preparing an evacuation kit for family members and pets. Please do not hesitate to call 911 immediately for assistance.

For any resident wanting to receive real-time emergency alerts from Will County EMA, please visit www.willcountyema.org/signup.

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