Concerns rise over Kankakee River flooding due to ice jam

The frigid weather is causing rivers to freeze over in the Chicago area, which is raising concerns for people who live along the Kankakee River.

We put our drone up over the frozen Kankakee River at the Will and Grundy County border -- a peaceful winter setting with the river ice nearly a foot thick.

But homeowners along the river are worried about a sudden thaw, like the one two years ago that caused huge ice dams and flooding for miles upstream.

"Over the next few weeks as winter gives way, we’ve got to keep vigilant to when an ice jam occurs, and they can happen quickly, a rapid rise in water without much notice," said Harold Damron.

And if that happens, the nearby Dresden nuclear power plant can help.


The 1200-acre cooling lake of 70-degree water next to the plant has three large hoses that can siphon millions of gallons of warm water directly into the river to melt ice dams forming under a bridge.

"The Will County EMA has indicated that flooding over the years would have been significantly worse in various areas had they not had the opportunity to use our warm water," Exelon spokesperson Sara Peters said.

That could change starting next year as Exelon is considering closing the Dresden plant, unless it gets legislation it wants in Springfield.