Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ten Actions to Reduce Storm Water Damage and Flooding Costs

While the recent flooding in Ferndale and throughout the region is still being measured and assessed, it appears to be the largest amount of rain in a twelve hour period in at least 89 years.  Some statisticians are reporting the storm may be categorized as a "two to three hundred" year storm.   Nevertheless, very heavy rains and storm events that used to be rare and unusual are becoming more frequent and climatologists in Michigan predict that this kind of weather  is what we should expect in our region with climate change.

Here are some steps that we can take to begin to deal with this new reality.

1)  Do not use water during heavy rains.  Do not do laundry, run dishwashers, take showers, or flush toilets if possible during heavy storms or prolong rains.  These activities just add to the volume of water and sewage to our combined wastewater and storm water systems.

2)   Turn off automatic sprinklers before, during, or after rains.  This may seem obvious, but cities, counties, golf courses, businesses, and even some  homeowners let this happen.  This adds to the problem, and wastes water, and money.

3)  Make sure your rain gutters on homes, businesses, or garages release rain runoff onto the ground or into the lawn or garden.  Do not allow them to be connected to sewers.

4)  Make sure culverts, drain grates, and catch basins are clear and unobstructed. If you cannot do this, make sure your city or township is doing that regularly.

5)  Never flush baby wipes, personal wipes, paper towels, or sanitary napkins down the toilet.  These products do not dissolve.  They clog sewer lines.  Throw them in the trash.

6)  Do not throw cigarette butts, or any kind of trash into the street.  These wash into drains and catch basins and clog the sewers or end up in our lakes and streams.

7)  Install a rain garden.  These structures catch and hold rain water, and release it back into the earth where we want it to go.

8)  Insist your city or township require green infrastructure in its building codes.  Any roof, parking lot, or sidewalk that is impervious to water adds to the problem of storm water overflow.  Permeable concrete, green roofs, retention ponds, and rain gardens reduce storm water and can lessen flooding.

9)  Be sure you add flood insurance or sewer back up riders to your homeowners' policies.  This protection is not automatic, and must be  requested and added.

10)  Reduce your carbon footprint.  Use less gasoline, heating fuel, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.  Eat less meat.  Reduce your power usage including electricity unless it is wind, solar or other renewables.  Your kids and grandkids will thank you.