Torrential rains in June 2019 flooded basements and tore up pavement, including on Montague Road below Devou Park.
City employing next step to zero in on health concerns
related to rain runoff woes
COVINGTON, Ky. – Covington is employing the next step in figuring out whether some of its residents’ basement-flooding issues, particularly those with potential health impacts, can be solved.
Property owners whose addresses are on a list where flooded basements have been reported in the past – a list the City continues to compile with residents’ help (see below) – should expect a phone call or an in-person visit in the coming weeks.
To discover more details about the type and degree of flooding, why it happens, when it happens, and whether there’s a fix that doesn’t cost a billion dollars or take 10 years to carry out.
“Not everybody’s issue is the same, and we want to reach into our ‘toolbox of solutions’ and see if there’s something the City or property owner – or the City working with its regional partners -- can implement that will help address the problem,” said Rich Anthony, the City’s project engineer. “We’re looking for the best solution for any particular location.”
The City took over parts of storm water management in Covington from Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky (SD1) earlier this year and is trying to get a handle on the extent of the problem.
What’s commonly known as “the sewer system” is actually two separate but related (and in some cases physically “combined”) systems: One that carries sanitary sewage from showers, sinks, and toilets to a sewage treatment plant, and one that carries away rain runoff.
The City’s responsibility centers on the health-related aspects of flooding, but the issue – like the water that enters some basements during torrential rains – is murky.
One reason for the follow-up visits and calls is to separate the surface-flooding issues from combined-sewer problems, Anthony said. In the former instance, water comes into a basement from the outside, via a door or a window. That’s primarily just rain. In the latter instance, the water backs up through a floor drain. That water can include sanitary sewage and can have health implications, which is what the City is most concerned about.
The causes and solutions for the different kinds of flooding are, likewise, different for each, he said.
The outreach will occur over the next four to six weeks, Anthony said. In some cases, it will involve members of the City’s Public Works Department, and in some cases staff from VS Engineering, a contractor for the City.
Meanwhile, Covington continues to encourage anybody whose basement has flooded in the past to make sure the City knows about it.
First, check to see whether your address is on this list that the City “inherited” from SD1: https://bit.ly/3nhRUFh
The, if you’re not on the list and have not filled out a recent online questionnaire, do so: https://bit.ly/38VK4bU
The City created the survey to fill in gaps in the database and build a more complete picture of flooding problems. Since Aug. 23, property owners have added 92 addresses to the list.
“We weren’t expecting that big of a response,” Anthony said. “There’s a lot of good data in there.”
Anthony, who oversees management of the City’s part of storm water maintenance, said the data accumulation will help focus the analysis of possible solutions. But he sounded a note of caution.
“Our immediate concern and responsibility is our residents’ health, and that’s where we’re going to focus our efforts,” he said.
The overall problem of flooding related to heavy rain, particularly storm water running off hills and sometimes overwhelming the infrastructure built to carry it away, is a much bigger problem that would require a whole lot of money and time to address.
“However, as part of this immediate effort, Covington is going to try to determine whether there are areas where we can work with SD1 and federal agencies to move forward on finding solutions to that overall problem,” he added.
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