Grosse Pointe Woods continues to study flooding issues

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 27, 2021

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Officials are planning to move forward with a number of projects that will study the city’s sewer system, especially after approximately 400 residents endured flooded basements during metro Detroit’s heavy rainfall June 25-26.

At a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting held in council chambers July 26, City Council members discussed various flood action items being taken and others to be considered. Council members Todd McConaghy and Angela Coletti Brown were absent.

As of July 12, city officials had 395 reports of flooding. About eight more residents experienced flooding after the July 16 rain, but nothing was reported after the July 24 rainfall.

Scott Lockwood, executive vice president of Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick Inc., based in Shelby Township, which is the city’s engineering firm, opened the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting in a discussion forum.

At the meeting, it was noted that one project will include the televising of sewers around Torrey Road and Ida Lane — primarily in the southern part of the city — to check conditions. The project is expected to cost $220,000 with a $50,000 contingency. A contingency is an amount of funds added to the base cost estimate to cover any unforeseen problems that could arise with the project.  

According to city officials, several factors will be considered while investigating the flooding issues. Reviewing the Torrey Road Pump Station’s data and performance during the June 25-26 event will be examined.

“It’s possible we’re going to find an obstruction we weren’t aware of,” Lockwood said. “If something comes up while they’re televising, a red flag will be raised immediately.”

Also on deck is a citywide sewer lining project program that will use cured-in-place pipe lining techniques for $300,000, plus a $50,000 contingency.

Both projects are awaiting contract approval and have been budgeted in the 2021-22 budget. The maintenance projects had already been scheduled prior to last month’s flooding. The plan is for the City Council to vote on them at the council’s Aug. 2 meeting. The projects are expected to begin in mid-August.

Another project that will be brought forward for approval is an open cut/pipe burst sewer repair program. At Monday’s meeting, city officials also talked about televising and investigating individual properties that are reporting flooding, studying the feasibility and cost of installing water level sensors and water flow meters in existing sewer lines and working with regional partners to facilitate a regional water study program.

“It is clear that the entire region must work on a plan to handle larger amounts of water in major rain events and find ways to dissipate it into the local waterways,” Mayor Art Bryant said. “The Great Lakes Water Authority, the Southeast Macomb Sanitary District and our individual cities together got to start meeting and finding ways to fix it. We’re getting more rain and bigger downfalls. We’ve got to assume it’s going to keep happening and find a way to fix it.”

Also discussed was obtaining and reviewing the data from the Southeast Macomb Sanitary District at Milk River as a result of flooding events, and studying the feasibility of alternatives to diverting the Harper Woods drainage water from the Torrey Road Pump Station into the Black Marsh Drain.

June 25-26 rainfall
At a town hall meeting held via Zoom videoconferencing July 15, Lockwood presented an overview of the June 25-26 rain event.

According to Lockwood’s presentation, the city and surrounding areas endured historic rainfall levels June 25-26. A total of 5.3 inches of rainfall was recorded in just three hours at the Torrey Road Pump Station.

Several chat messages were posted from residents during the zoom meeting: “This does not inspire any confidence,” “This is too little too late, to say the least,” “Why did some homes flood and others on the same street did not,” and “Why did our system fail?”

On July 9, Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives visited several communities, including Grosse Pointe Woods. FEMA gathered data that will be used in assessments.

According to Lockwood’s presentation, FEMA and members of the Michigan State Police Emergency Management Division visited approximately 20 homes on East and West Ida Lane. While FEMA did not go inside the homes, representatives asked homeowners several questions about how much water was in their basements and any roof-leaking issues.

Flood damage “notice of claim” forms are available for residents and business owners affected by the recent flooding events. The forms can be picked up at the City Clerk’s office at 20025 Mack Plaza Drive or from the Department of Public Works located on Parkway Drive at Marter Road. Forms also are available on the city website at under the Departments/City Clerk/Forms tab.