Flooding How Many Times Before the City Takes Care of This.

Flooding again an issue for some residents of Dearborn Heights. In the month of July there was so much rain residents in the area one block north of Michigan Avenue, just behind the TCF Bank. Are flooded yet again. The difference this time is that some residents noticed the DPW trucks parked at the end of some streets and DPW workers doing something. Obviously some resident must have called the city to let them know they were flooding again. When finished doing what ever they did the water whooshed and was gone. These DPW workers were seen on more than one block of the flooded area by residents and were seen going down in the sewer. This area of the City is notorious for flooding one person has stated that the flooding only happened on his side of the street. Homes behind and across the street didn’t flood. Another home owner brought out a company to look at the lines of the house. Sewer lines clear company said this is a problem with the City. Another home owner had his sewer lines video recorded that home owner decided to replace lines from house to City sewer lines. At a cost of 2,000.00 and yes they flooded twice since doing that. I can’t understand why the administration after all these years hasn’t gotten a handle on this problem? I’m not sure what the DPW did over in that area to get the water to drain so fast, but they must know what the problem is.

As residents we don’t know how much the administration pays out in flooding settlements. You can see charges for lawyer fees on the agendas. All expensive related to flooding are paid for from the water fund.


21 thoughts on “Flooding How Many Times Before the City Takes Care of This.”

  1. Unfortunately, there is only one sewer line running from your house in which both the ground water (found around your foundation) and the waste-water(sewage) from the house flow out to the main sewer. Each is a separate system in the house But “Y” together to form one sewer line out of the house. Therefore, you have to put one back-flow valve just above where the groundwater and sewage pipe become one. If we had separate storm and sewer systems in our city, putting a back flow valve in the sewer line of your house would keep the sewage out; however, this is not the way the south end was built and no feasible plan has been put forward to separate the groundwater from the sewage. We have what is known as CSO’s or combined sewage outflows.

    Since North Dearborn Heights was mostly established after South Dearborn Heights those of you living in NDH might have a separate sewer and storm lines and putting a back-flow valve in just the sewer (waste-water ) line would work. However, before going to the expense of having one put in just the sewage line ( most back flows valves requires digging up part of the basement floor) I would advise you making sure the lines are separated and are not CSO’s in your area.

    Until the airport is put on a separate line from the Ecorse Creek we in SDH will continue to have our basements flood. The best you can do is not use the basement as another room, make sure anything you store down there is at least 3 feet above the floor. Washers, dryers, furnaces and hot water tanks should be put on some type of platform but no guarantee they won’t get ruined if it rains hard.

    If people insist on making the basement another room with furnishings, carpeting, expensive electronic equipment etc. Make sure you get a back-flow valve installed and a powerful sump pump and back up generator to run both in case the electricity is out. Its not a solid guarantee that it will keep the water out but in all likely hood it will save you not only money in the long run but a lot of grief having to clean up that nasty, germy stuff afterwards. Believe me, I am well versed in cleaning sewer water up from a basement and over the years have learned quite a bit as I am sure many others in SDH’s have.

    There is a solution. No more CSO’s, separate the sewage and storm sewers and/or put the airport on their own sewer; all of which are much too costly and will never get done- at least in my lifetime.


  2. Then, the basement clear and find a way to have the valves only on sewage lines. ground water than will fill your basement during the flooding with less dangerous water and less pressure on the walls.

    Sorry for S/E/D/H owners in the flood zones. Keep asking the city government about solutions, you never know when and how they will be one or more.


  3. The problem is that when South Dearborn Heights was being built in the 1950’s either the builders didn’t know it was a flood zone or knew but didn’t care. My parents built their house in the mid 1960’s and their basement walls not only met but exceeded the building code. My dad made sure the basement walls were done right as he felt that if you didn’t have a good foundation there was no sense in finishing the house. We were never informed that we were in a flood zone.

    Being a flood zone is preciously why Metro Airport is allowed to dump their water in the Ecorse Creek even if it causes flooding to South Dearborn Heights otherwise it would be illegal for them to do so.

    In South Dearborn Heights, doesn’t matter how strong your basement walls are, if you put in back flow valves and don’t spend for a sump pump you are asking for costly trouble down the road.


  4. Basements in flood zone areas, are basically underground concrete water tanks. In my opinion they shouldn’t be allowed at all.

    Foundations drainage systems should work fine similar to the house drain, When the city system is backed-up noting will drain anyway. Yes the valves will stop that drainage from going in the basement with the sewage and may cause damaging pressure on damaged wales during the back-up time.

    If the basement wales are intact and strong the valves will save the house from the nasty and dangerous sewage problems.

    Anyway, weak and non-intact basement wales needs to be repaired ASAP before it cause unsafe foundation situation.


  5. Truthtelling,

    Thank you for your information. However, those of us flooding in South Dearborn Heights are the direct result of water that is coming from Metro Airport; the more runways, the more run off into the Ecorse Creek and Frank-Poet drain. There is one retention basin in our area and that is located between the east and west bound lanes of I-94 at Pelham Road. The other drainage for South Dearborn Heights is the sewer tunnel that runs along Pelham/Allen Road through other downriver communities. If that retention basin and tunnel had not been constructed, we in South Dearborn Heights after a large rainfall would literally look like the after effects of Katrina. The more that the airport is built up the more natural drainage is taken away and the more the Ecorse Creek (and Frank-Poet Drain) will not be able to hold and that water will find its way into our basements and streets..

    Back flow valves are great at keeping the city sewer water from coming into your basement, but while they stop the back flow they also stop the drainage tiles from around your house from working when it is raining hard, which causes pressure on the foundation and basement walls. We learned this the hard way when my parents house (after having back flow valves installed) had water flooding their basement (during heavy rainfalls) not from the city sewers but because of the pressure of the ground water forcing its way through the walls. My parents needed to dig up and replace two basement walls because of this.

    So in addition to the back flow valves you need a powerful sump pump to take the water pressure off the drainage tiles. However, the sump pump needs to drain where it can seep into the ground and not flow into the street as that would just be recycling the problem. This is where a rain garden comes in. As I said before I am not a tree hugger but the only way for us as a community to help control flooding is for every individual to divert rainfall from the city sewers to our own property. We cannot stop new construction at the airport and the politics that allow strip malls to be built that take up valuable drainage ground but there are things we can do as individuals. .



  6. And perhaps, before deciding he needs a car, he could submit business mileage along with the subject of that business to the council to see how much he REALLY needs a car. But you know, I’m still of the mindset that he should use what’s available during work hours and take his own car to and from work.


  7. City of dearborn heights officials are very concern and stressed out about a car lease for $320 a month, that matter required a public study session to analyse the effect of that lease on public services. Usually council study sessions are called for issues of high complexity that need time to be analysed and evaluated.During the council meeting, the council chair could asked that director to explain why he needed a car? The members could asked their questions, then vote on the resolution.

    City business should be about public services, the issues should be evaluated on that basis. How much the city public services will be affected by ordering that director to submit mileage reimbursement for city business every month?

    The council and the mayor should use that study session time to go as group to that terrified lady neighbor’s house with the loose pit-bulls and check out the matter and take actions. May be the neighbor will notice that the city is serious about the citizens concerns.

    I hope the study session for the car lease will be public so citizens can attend and learn more about this important lease issue.


  8. Marge! I checked with my source and was told that what I put in the Truth Page and what you said are BOTH correct. The sewers are cleaned continuously and it takes 4 years to make one round. Instead of trying to make the citizens look foolish, perhaps you could have answered in a nicer way. I know it’s a stretch for you, but give it a try.


  9. Once again, Marge? When did I have misinformation before? I was told that fact by a council person. Seems there’s a difference of opinion on the council. God I’m SO tired of you and your sarcastic comments.


  10. The city of Dearborn Heights has three sewer systems. The Ecorse system in the south, the lower rouge system that runs with Michigan Avenue, and the north rouge system, that cross the north part of the city, the tree systems also serve other surrounding cities and most cities has combined sewer outflow (CSO).

    All combined outflows are controlled by Detention Basins, Treatment/Capture Shafts, Screening & Disinfection Facilities, In-System Storage Facilities (Dams and Gates), Equalization Basins (as part of CSO Elimination Program), Sewer Separations/Relief Sewers and Collection System Upgrades, Operational Elements, and Detroit WWTP. according to: http://www.epa.gov/med/grosseile_site/indicators/cso.html

    Over the years the capacities of all combined control outflow systems dramatically increased, that decreased the untreated discharge of outflows in to neutral waterways.

    I believe municipalities pays fees per cubic feets for CSO discharges to the county and detroit.

    During excessive rain the local system is over-run in certain areas due to low pipes capacity or obstructions, and at the same time due to over-run capability of the combined system when local CSO is not flowing to the main COO systems due to over-run at the general CSO controls.

    If the flooding is due to local piping capacity then it’s local problem, and has nothing to do with regional CSO.

    Professional piping holding capacity and capability flow rates studies can distinguish between local or regional problems.

    Local and regional untreated outflows controls can hold the untreated outflows to accommodate for the capacity of the treatment centers.

    Increasing the capacities of the treatment centers will only help if the outflows systems capacities are capable of supplying those centers.

    Separation between sewer and rainfall are the best solution when possible (new developments requirements for water site retentions)

    The sewage back-flow problem is mostly regional and local municipalities have limited controls on the overall solutions. The more billions the regional system needed to fix the further the fix will become reality.

    The focus on the point of damage will be best option to prevent the damages at each point with one time permanent fix at reasonable cost.

    Basements are underground structures and naturally are subjects to flooding due to various natural elements.

    Converting them to living spaces is very practical and convenience, but installation of certain controls gadgets such as sewer backflow devices, may be a wise decisions to stop the home from receiving any CSO in case the city system are back-flowing.

    The following webpage may be helpful informations from Madison county .


    Always make sure to contact the city building department before attempting to install any such device. This type of work must be done by licensed and certified plumbers and required city permits and inspection by city building inspectors.

    I will research for some practical solutions to reduce the huge financial liabilities on both the city operation and homeowners, hopefully there are some for future comment.

    Chairing knowledge is a civic duty.


  11. To Anxious,

    Like me, you know first hand the anxiety that is felt every time it rains hard and have heard the same old bull spit spewed from our city administration over the decades. However, water squirting out of the storm sewers in Dearborn is a new one to me as it must have been for your daughter and yourself.

    I believe the majority of Dearborn is in the Rouge River watershed, which is not a flood zone like South Dearborn Heights and does not get water from Metro. There might be a few blocks in Dearborn that are in both the Ecorse Creek and River Rouge watersheds but not many.

    All that messing around with the Rouge River, supposedly putting in retaining basins might be a cause. The retaining basin they were putting in on Outer Drive near Michigan Avenue was originally built wrong and there was a big fight as to who was responsible for fixing it. The project was finally finished but how well it was finished is the $64,000.00 question..

    There was some big sewer tunnel that was started in which all cities using Detroit sewers had to pay thousands of dollars a year and still have to even though the tunnel was never completed. Kind of wonder if that might have anything to do with Dearborn starting to flood as I believe but not sure there was to be some kind of connection either in Dearborn or near the Dearborn/Detroit line in the east end of Dearborn. The salt in the wound is that while we are paying for the first failed sewer tunnel, we are now be made to pay more thousands of dollars per year for a new one to be built.

    Also the increase in homes going on-line with the Detroit sewer system from the far western suburbs (like Canton and Novi) is causing more drainage water being funneled into the Rouge (which can’t handle it) and those living at the lower end of the Rouge are going to start flooding more.

    I am not a tree hugger but we need to divert the rainwater that comes off our roofs away from the street sewers and rain gardens and would be an inexpensive solution and just might be the edge to keep our basements dry if either of the above thoughts are causing more flooding. I would rather my yard flood than my basement.



  12. the drains right infront of the houses are storm and go into the creek I know as I have lived here since 1964 and was involved in with this problem for a long time.We are in a flood area. But we are not the only city now that floods in basements,mydaughter has lived in Dearborn 26 yrs and never had a flood in the basement. THE DRAINS IN THE STREET were squirting up with water.


  13. To Anxious,

    If you live in the Ecorse Creek watershed (South Dearborn Heights), when the lagoons at Detroit Metro Airport are full, that water is dumped into a drainage ditch on the north side of the airport (running along Wick Road) and that drainage ditch goes directly into the Ecorse Creek. Metro will tell you that there isn’t a drainage ditch there but I saw an actual map of Wayne County at a flood info meeting at U of M Dearborn several years ago and yes the open ditch is gone but it was encased in sewer pipes and covered over so no one could see it but was still on the map as drainage to the Ecorse Creek. Also several years back we had a rainfall that would have flooded all the basements in the south end, except we didn’t even get a drop of water in our basements and the streets didn’t back up. Why? the power at the airport was down and their pumps could not work. That time the airport was flooded out and had to be closed.

    People who never flooded before in the downriver cities are now starting to see their basements flood. Why? when the McNamara terminal was built with its new runways the water form these runways was channeled into the Frank-Poet drain that runs along the south border of the airport. The Frank-Poet drain goes through many downriver communities.

    Cleaning the sewers help but the sewers that are cleaned are mostly the sanitary sewers and not the storm ones. Dearborn Heights for the most part has CSO/Combined Sewer Overflow which when we get a heavy rainfall the sewer and storm water combine in one pipe; that pipe is filled up and combine that with water from the airport being pumped into the creek the water has no where to go except for our basements. I know of one house that the basement completely flooded up the to ceiling of the basement and another house that had 3-4 feet of water worms in the basement..

    As long as they keep expanding the airport our problem is only going to get worse so about the only thing we can do as individuals is make sure our roof run off is going to a grassy area away from the streets and the catch basins (street sewers). We put in a rain barrel on just one side of the roof of our garage, in less than15 minutes a 55 gallon rain barrel was filled completely up. I knew there was a large amount of water coming off our roofs but I had no idea of how much until we got a rain barrel. Hopefully, next year my husband and I plan to put in a rain garden to catch all the water coming off all of our roofs. I think that if each house would put in a rain garden and funnel the roof water to it we should see a decrease in flooded basements.

    Dearborn flooding. I have lived in South Dearborn Heights since 1965. Dearborn never flooded even if we were up to our noses in water. I can’t explain that one. Did this all start after they fooled around building holding tanks along the Rouge River (Telegraph and Ann Arbor, Outer Drive and Michigan Avenue and one I believe at Village Road and Southfield). Seems if Dearborn is starting to flood when as far back as I can remember it never did, something was done in recent years to cause it. Dearborn residents need to do some serious researching and find out the reason.


  14. Dearborn flooded too.My daughter lost everything in her basement. I agree every 2 yrs may help but I have asked them to do that since the early seventies no body listens so it is not just this mayor.I have noticed going around the city that there are more grass services and they blow all the cut grass into the street with sticks and other junk. I try to say something to them and all was told is nothing to do with me.All that goes down the drains and if you have a drain infront of your house that grate needs to be kept clean but the home owners don’t do it. This whole city has gone down and fast. Does anyone have an answer ??????


  15. I was told by a council person that the city hires out the cleaning of the sewers and the sewers are cleaned every 4 YEARS! I just wonder what would happen if they cleaned out these sewers in the flood areas more often – say every 2 years? When the city can get the water to go down that quickly, something tells me SOMEONE’s not telling us the whole truth.


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