Ann Arbor kicks off $1.2M study of sewer system, footing drain program and basement sewage backups
The city of Ann Arbor is encouraging residents to attend an upcoming public meeting to kick off the city's Sanitary Sewer Wet Weather Evaluation Project.
The project includes an 18- to 24-month study to monitor the flow within the city's sanitary sewer system, evaluate the effectiveness of the city's footing drain disconnection program, and evaluate and recommend additional methods to control impacts of stormwater on the sanitary sewer system.
Photo courtesy of Laura Ent
Attendees will be able to learn more about the project, meet the project team and find out how to get involved, city officials said.
The city has launched a website to keep residents up to date as the project progresses.
According to the website, the project will include measuring how much the footing drain disconnection program has reduced stormwater flow to the sanitary sewer system. It also will include an assessment of the risk of basement sewage backups in the city.
Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment Inc. was awarded a $968,348 contract by the City Council on Feb. 4 to complete both the study and associated public engagement for the project. OHM already has started collecting data and monitoring system flow, according to the project website.
The council established a $192,000 contingency within the project budget, as well as $85,000 for the estimated city staff time, pushing the project budget up to more than $1.2 million.
"As the Footing Drain Disconnect (FDD) Program has been in place for over 10 years, it is appropriate to evaluate and document the effectiveness of the program on reducing the impacts of wet weather events on the city's sanitary sewer system," reads a city staff memo. "This review will allow the city to assess the sanitary basement backup risk that remains in original priority areas, and to identify other areas in the city that may require mitigation of their sanitary basement backup risk."
The City Council took action in September to temporarily suspend the city's footing drain disconnection program in two areas on the city's southwest side after residents complained. The city launched the program in 2001 in response to widespread basement sewage backups.
Over the past 12 years, many homes in Ann Arbor have had FDD work done and sump pumps installed to divert flows away from the city's sanitary sewer and instead to the stormwater drainage system. Ann Arbor officials credit the program for helping to ensure the city's sanitary sewer system doesn't become overwhelmed during storms or lead to basement sewage backups.
But in heavy rains when some neighborhoods have flooded and the city's stormwater system has been overwhelmed, some residents have complained the sump pumps the city has made them install are ineffective and water ends up cycling back in and flooding their basements.
Mark TenBroek, vice president of engineering firm CDM Smith, said as of April 2 there have been 1,831 footing drain disconnects in single-family residences in Ann Arbor, plus a total of 762 "developer mitigation footing drain disconnection equivalents." He said some of those under the developer mitigation program are for larger structures, so they're reported as single-family equivalents.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.