Detroit launches program to reduce street flooding
Detroit — A new program to inspect and clean 30,000 catch basins with the goal of reducing street flooding in neighborhoods was unveiled Tuesday by officials with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
To accomplish the mission, DWSD recently purchased and received eight new Vactor trucks — large vehicles that suck out dirt and debris that accumulates and creates blockages below the storm grate — at a cost of $3.9 million. DWSD is in the process of hiring additional staff for the program.
It’s part of Mayor Mike Duggan’s 10-point neighborhood plan he announced during an Aug. 16 community meeting.
“This is another example of how we are starting to provide a higher and more consistent level of service to every one of the city’s 201 neighborhoods,” Duggan said in a statement. “Every chance we get, we are going to continue to restore and add new services.”
Catch basins carry stormwater off city streets and nearby properties into the city’s combined sewer system. Of the city’s 95,000 catch basins citywide, a review of customer complaints shows more than 75 percent are covered by debris or have a blockage. After heavy rains, the stormwater can’t drain and streets flood.
The addition of the new Vactor trucks triples DWSD’s fleet from four trucks to 12.
The announcement also comes four months after Duggan announced the return of residential street sweeping after a seven-year absence. Three times a year, the street sweeping program clears the debris at street level from on top of storm grates. The Vactor trucks will clear out the blockages in storm drains below ground to prevent street flooding.
At a press conference held in front of Alfonso Wells Park on Griggs Street, Palencia Mobley, DWSD’s deputy director and chief engineer, stood at a podium to make the announcement while flanked by neighborhood residents.
“This is the first time since 2010 that the city has performed this kind of maintenance,” Mobley said.
She said Griggs Street was selected because of the volume of complaints regarding catch basins, which were cleaned there following the announcement.
“This is a beautiful, tree-lined street, which has the propensity to have blocked catch basins,” she said. “We want to make sure we focus on customers, deliver clean water and get rid of waste water.”
Diane Chapman is among the residents who called the city over the years to complain about flooding in her basement. She has lived on Birwood, around the corner from Griggs, for 42 years.
“My basement floods after every rain, and recently, that water has included sewage,” Chapman said. “I’m just so happy that the mayor is focusing on this area because it needs the help.”
Following the press conference, one of the huge new Vactor trucks was used to demonstrate how the catch basins are cleared. Vactor trucks use a vacuum unit along with high-pressure water to remove debris from pipes, basins and other areas.