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.


At 7:56 PM, Blogger Brian Rookard said...

Mr. Covey, there is no evidence that there has been any increase in rainfall events exceeding 2". A graph of such rain events for all USCHN weather stations throughout the U.S. shows that the average is 1-2 days per year for such events, and has not changed for the last 120 years.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Craig Covey said...

We are talking amounts as well as duration. Amounts of rain falling in shorter periods of time affect our stormwater sewer systems. And I am simply reiterating what our state and federal climatologists are predicting for our region and state. Farmers have stoppped growing wheat in North Dakota, because of warming temperatures and wetter weather. They have switched to growing corn now.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Willi_H2O said...

The GWK retention facility has trouble handling quite a few recent rainfall events the past 10 years. The Red Run needs a serious deredging -at the expense of OAKLAND COUNTY residents - since its ""their"" stormwater, from ""their"" cities, on the other side of Dequindre Road.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Craig Covey said...

The GWK has "handled" all of the rainfalls, having passed the DEQ's permit by partially treating all overflows, so that raw sewage is not spilled into the Red Run drain. The unprecedented 300 year storm of Aug. 11 brought up to 6 inches of rain on our area causing massive flooding. No retention basis can store all that water. Climate disruption promises more of those kinds of events, unfortunately.


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