Detroit flooding was ‘inevitable’, Great Lakes Water Authority report says

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According to a new independent report commissioned by GLWA.

An overnight storm in the early morning hours of June 26 dumped more than six inches of rain in just a few hours. The result was widespread surface flooding and basement backups, especially in parts of Detroit, Grosse Pointes and Dearborn.

After the storm, it was revealed that a power outage at a Detroit east side pumping station caused some pumps to stop working and others not to connect. But according to the report, while the pumping outages likely “exacerbated” the flooding, it was the amount of rain in such a short time that overwhelmed the sewage system.

These facts suggest “that conveyance capacity in the collection system, not pumping, was the primary cause of flood risk, and additional pumping capacity would not have substantially reduced the risk of subsurface backup.” “, says the report. improvements in transport, entry controls and storage in the system are warranted. »

The GLWA, which is facing multiple lawsuits and thousands of claims over the flooding, is using the findings as evidence that the events were the “inevitable” result of the type of intense storms brought about by climate change.

“The unprecedented rains of last summer are a concrete example of the devastating effects climate change can have on our communities,” GLWA Acting Director Suzanne Coffey said in a statement. “It is likely that we will continue to see more intense storms with greater frequency. Although it is not possible to eliminate the risk of flooding in these circumstances, we are taking steps that can help mitigate the extent of flooding.

The report contains short- and long-term recommendations for adapting water and sewer infrastructure to this new reality. These recommendations range from constantly preparing for intense storms and upgrading pumping infrastructure, to redesigning system capacity for a higher level of flood protection.

In a statement, GLWA said it has also “begun working with its legislators to identify funding at the federal level for a flood hazard mitigation study for Southeast Michigan. The study full feasibility study, which will be conducted in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, would assess the implementation of concepts such as storing sewage at ground level or deep tunnels, using pump stations for disposal , the construction of large-diameter relief sewers and strategic separation sewers to deal with the long-term impacts of climate change.

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