The city is taking measures to prevent future flooding problems, city officials said, but there is no magic bullet solution.
The subject of basement flooding during heavy rains was the topic of a June 14 meeting of City Council’s Sanitation Committee.
Mayor Denis Clough has drafted an ordinance that would seek to provide some funding mechanism to help residents make improvements that could prevent future flooding. Law Director John Wheeler is investigating a program in Columbus in which the city pays for installation of a backflow device to prevent flooding. The question is whether it is legal for a city to give tax dollars directly to residents. Clough said the city may be able to use grant money to provide residents with solutions.
City Engineer Bob Kelly noted that two rain storms of 100-year intensities took place in Westlake just this year. Most streets and retention basins are built to handle 10-year storms, he said. Seven of the top 11 rain storms during the past 100 years took place within the past 20 years, Kelly noted.
Retention basins cannot be built any larger because they would simply fill more quickly, Kelly said.
Kelly said residents should take measures to protect their properties.
“Floodproof your house,” Kelly said. “Don’t waste your money buying flood insurance because they probably won’t pay you anyway.”
Kelly outlined a number of steps homeowners can take to prevent future flooding, all of which are listed on documents that can be downloaded from the Engineering Department page on the city’s website, http://www.cityofwestlake.org/.
In cases where the floor drains are connected to the storm drain, disconnecting the drain’s gravity tie to the storm sewer and installing an exterior sump pump can solve the problem, Kelly said. A sump pump won’t help without disconnecting the gravity tie, Kelly added.
Installing standpipes and backwater valves can prevent flooding from sanitation surcharge flooding, Kelly said.
Die testing of a home’s plumbing is offered for free by the city’s Engineering Department, Kelly noted, and should be done before attempting any major improvements. Waterproofing of a basement should not be done without a dye test, according to Kelly. He added his opinion that often waterproofing does not solve anything.
“They just sold the people something they did not need,” the city engineer said.
In addition to dye testing, Kelly said city employees will visit residents’ homes at no charge to analyze whether any other actions can be taken at a particular property to reduce or eliminate flooding.
The city wants to install 23 flow meters throughout its sanitary system, Kelly said. The project would cost about $130,000, he said.
Kelly said the city was still waiting on a report on the efficiency of the head ends at the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Kelly has said the Feb. 28 storm caused infiltration of stormwater into the sanitary sewers due to a backup of the pipes leading into the plant.
The mayor said the city is working on sewer and flooding-related problems that are solvable.
He said residents can take advantage of the free consulting analyses offered by the Engineering Department.
“A lot of people don’t even know what we do,” Clough said.
The Westlake Engineering Department can be reached at 440-617-4145.