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Detroit sewer project aims to increase sewer system capacity, prevent flooding

A rendering of new detention basins in Rouge Park.
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
A rendering of new detention basins in Rouge Park.

Detroit has broken ground on a major new sewer system project meant to avoid the type of catastrophic flooding some areas of the city saw last year.

The core of the five-year, $40 million project is two new detention basins in Rouge Park, on Detroit’s far West Side. The surrounding neighborhood was one of the areas hardest-hit by flooding during intense rainfall last June.

The basins will capture up to an estimated 100 million gallons rainwater and snow melt that would otherwise go into the combined sewer system. They’ll then filter and discharge the water directly into the Rouge River.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department director Gary Brown said this is the type of project the city needs to prevent flooding from future climate-change-driven rain events.

“The stormwater improvement project in Far West Detroit is unique to our other 16 green stormwater infrastructure projects in that it redirects stormwater from an entire neighborhood into new detention basins in a city park and keeps it out of the sewer system by discharging to the Rouge River,” Brown said. “It is transformative projects like this which will lead to operating a more climate resilient sewer system.”

The project will also replace water mains and lead service lines in the surrounding neighborhood, as well as disconnecting downspouts in an effort to lead rainwater away from driveways and roads and toward absorbent soil.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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