Videos Show Sewage Water Erupting Over Chicago Streets Amid Heavy Rain, Flooding

Several videos recorded in the Lincoln Square area of Chicago appeared to show a mixture of sewage and water exploding over city streets as manhole covers blew off following heavy rain and flooding.

Motorists and bystanders along Lawrence Avenue on Chicago's northwest side posted video to social media Saturday afternoon that showed at least two manhole covers had been blown off the street, causing "sewage fountain explosions." A tornado touch down occurred south of the city, and a second tornado warning was paired with severe weather, rain and flood warnings for all of Cook County just after 2 p.m. local time.

Chicago uses a so-called combined sewer system, which often sees residence waste water and post-storm rain water merging together and bursting out from the points of least resistance.

So it's definitely raining in Chicago pic.twitter.com/qwnvqzXepx

— Luke (@sumofieId) June 26, 2021

Drivers appeared shocked at the vertical bursts of sewage and water spewing from under the city's streets, with many fellow residents on social media encouraging them not to make contact given the presence of bacteria-heavy wastewater.

"Sewerage fountain explosion. Careful driving around Lawrence Ave between Talman and Washtenaw. This has been going on and off for sometime," tweeted Nirajan Khadga, who recorded video just outside of a Harvestime Foods Saturday afternoon.

Some major U.S. cities, including much of Chicago, utilize a one-pipe sewer system. This means that stormwater and wastewater are handled by the same sewers and treatment plants. And the system often must dump excess water from sewers into Lake Michigan after major storms like the one that occurred Saturday.

Sewerage fountain explosion. Careful driving around Lawrence Ave between Talman and Washtenaw. This has been going on and off for sometime. @chicago pic.twitter.com/tcHTs9RZpJ

— Nirajan Khadga (@NKhadga) June 26, 2021

The City of Chicago has at least seven treatment plants which provide an average of 1.4 billion gallons of water to residents every day, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council. "While wastewater treatment capacity is very high, it can be overwhelmed at times. Chicago uses a combined sewer system, meaning that stormwater and wastewater are handled by the same sewers and treatment plants," the group notes.

"Don't drive through flooded viaducts, police & fire have better things to do than rescue your dumb ass #Chicago," the popular Chicago Scanner account tweeted Saturday, sharing its own June 21, 2014 post created during similarly severe weather seven years ago.

Last Sunday, several manhole covers blew off and created major water leaks inside the Loop, Chicago's downtown area.

Meanwhile a tornado touched down on the ground near Crete, Illinois, about 37 miles south of Chicago, Saturday afternoon.

The National Weather Service warned of a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado and severe rain at about noon local time. "Get inside, away from windows, and if you can [get] as low as you can," NWS Chicago told residents at the time.

Newsweek reached out to Chicago's sanitation bureau and Department of Water Management Saturday afternoon for any additional remarks about the response to the flooding.

manhole covering flood chicago sewage
Water rushes into a manhole cover in Bad Harzburg, Germany, on 25 July 2017. SWEN PFORTNER / DPA / Contributor/Getty Images