Dearborn Heights to pursue several flood mitigation projects – Press and Guide
Whenever torrential rains are forecast, residents become anxious and when their worst fears come true, voters call on elected officials to find solutions to alleviate basement and street flooding.
Officials in the city of Dearborn Heights are currently pursuing several projects to alleviate the concerns of local residents and are actively seeking grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help fund the projects.
Ali Dib, a professional engineer, who serves as municipal engineer, and Hassane Jamal, director of grant and budget compliance, who serves as project manager for FEMA’s mitigation programs, are at the fore- guard of projects that the city is pursuing to provide relief. to the inhabitants.
Six major projects are shaping the city’s approach and include: buying and demolishing homes in the Ecorse Creek floodplain; the creation of ready-to-go projects to mitigate the flooding of the Ecorse stream; implement flooding projects for the Ecorse stream; study and design solutions to improve stormwater supply in the watersheds of the middle arm of the Red River and Ecorse Creek; study how to improve the city’s stormwater supply system; and assess how to improve the city’s sanitary sewer system.
Jamal said that when FEMA officials first arrived in Dearborn Heights after the 2014 floods, they gave a grant to the state of Michigan, run by Michigan State Police, for which the city of Dearborn Heights applied for and received $ 2.8 million in 2016 to remove the homes that were built. in the floodplains along Ecorse Creek.
Another grant, in 2016, provided $ 1.4 million and enabled the city to acquire and demolish additional homes in the floodplains.
“This particular grant did not materialize, because when I got on board in March, out of 12 houses approved on file, there were only five houses assessed and ready to be demolished and purchased,” he said. -he declares. “We’ve bought four houses right now, and they’re ready to be demolished, and we’re waiting to cut and cap the natural gas, and then they’ll go for demolition.”
Jamal said the $ 1.4 million grant expired in August 2021, and Mayor Bill Bazzi urged them to request an extension.
“We are hoping for positive confirmation of a one-year extension, and it’s not official yet, but it’s going as planned,” Jamal said. “The $ 1.4 million grant was approved for 12 homes, not just five.”
He said the owners of four of the five homes approved for demolition had agreed to sell their homes; the fifth holdout allegedly wanted more money. The program is conducted on a voluntary basis.
Jamal said he didn’t know why more homes hadn’t been appraised and appraised because it was ahead of time, but if the grant is extended he will try to demolish five more residences.
Dib said the new administration has assembled a team to follow up on the floodplain house appraisal and demolition project. He said that before he was hired by the city to be its engineer, the city relied on consultants.
Jamal said the city applied for a new grant in March to acquire, demolish and develop green space on land surrounding 16 additional homes on both sides of Currier Street and Hanover Avenue, near Ecorse Creek. He said he hopes to hear the results of the recent grant application in November.
He said the process of appraising, acquiring and demolishing homes takes 18 to 22 months.
“We have identified repeated flooding situations,” Dib said. “So we have a flood map, where FEMA is involved, and we have defined locations. “
Jamal said that in the first week of October, city officials would file a Notice of Intent, or NOI, for five different city project grant applications.
He said FEMA had both mitigation grants and BRIC grants – grants for building resilient infrastructure and communities.
“They come from the same pot, but for a different scope of work,” said Jamal.
He said the five projects include: acquiring and demolishing the FEMA house, with the creation of green public spaces, for around $ 3 million; the Ecorse Creek Flood Management Project, approximately $ 15 million; a scoping (or evaluation) and visibility (or importance) project for the city’s watersheds, costing approximately $ 600,000; a scope and visibility study for the city’s stormwater system in the north of the city, using the Warren Valley golf course as a possible flood control site, for approximately $ 1.6 million ; and finally, a scoping and visibility study of the city’s entire sewer network, in order to assess its capacity and the possible installation of emergency sewer methods, with $ 450,000 for the evaluation portion. of the project.
Dib said Bazzi, who is an engineer himself, has had his administration adopt a new business model to address flood mitigation.
“The model includes the development of a city-wide master plan, which will solicit input from all citizens,” he said. “The plan would be the city’s road map for the future, for all public and private works in the city of Dearborn Heights.”
Dib said the mayor has assembled a team of professionals to assess and develop solutions to the various problems and challenges the city is currently facing.
“On the engineering side, the plan provides for a comprehensive assessment of watersheds impacting our city,” he said. “It will be the Rouge at the north end and Ecorse Creek.”
Dib said 50% of Dearborn Heights has yet to separate stormwater and sanitary sewer systems, under the Clean Water Act of 1972, causing operational problems. The unfunded federal mandate faces a deadline of 2025.
“We have one completed project, one awarded now and one in the design phase,” he said.
Dib said Dearborn Heights is also receiving feeds from surrounding communities as he walks to a treatment facility. He said he recently discovered, at the start of a project, that the town of Inkster had tributaries feeding the Dearborn Heights system. The city is currently sending dye into the system to determine where the flow is going as it could not find any applicable records.
Dib said the situation in Inkster will not have a negative impact on the Dearborn Height City project schedule. Inkster’s flow into the Dearborn Heights system will either be blocked or rerouted.
Jamal said the city of Dearborn Heights approved $ 25 million in Combined Sewer Overflow Bonds or CSOs about six months ago, and that this would cover the cost of four different sewer separation projects.
Dib said that the sewage from the north and south sections of the city is treated in different facilities: sewage disposal system in Detroit.
Regarding stormwater runoff into Ecorse Creek, he said the city was working with the Wayne County Drain Commission to expedite stream maintenance, dredging and congestion removal to meet capacity. flow.
“The idea is to create a retention, which will hold the stormwater and slowly release it back into the system,” Dib said.
He said that on the north side of the city, along the Red River watershed, the city is currently assessing the watershed, to determine the possible need for detention or retention ponds.
Retention basins, or dry ponds, have an outlet at the bottom of the basin and do not maintain a permanent water pool, whereas a retention basin has an outlet at a higher level and has a water basin permanent all year round.
Dib said creating a retention pond on the Warren Valley Golf Course, which is bounded by Warren, Beech Daly and Hines Drive, would alleviate some of the stormwater capacity issues that Dearborn Heights faces.
“These pools would be park-like attractions, not something that is going to be ugly,” he said. “The golf course is quite large and some parts are in the area of the flood plan, so it is not difficult to take sections of it, if the study indicates, and use it for flood management. “
Dib said the idea is a more creative approach to stormwater management.
“Instead of tearing up the city and trying to make our storm water pipes bigger, we’re looking for a more creative approach that can give us what we want, reduce the rainfall pressure on the system, using something that we already have it, ”he said. noted. “We are not looking to take over the golf course completely. “
Dib said the city also faces many infrastructure drainage issues.
“We are considering an assessment of our aging sewage system, both sanitary and stormwater, to identify areas of deficiency requiring capital expenditure,” he said. “Part of this study will be on capacity.
“The demand generated by development over the past 50 years, combined with the effects of climate change, which is causing unprecedented intensity, frequency and volume of precipitation, are stressing our aging system. “
Dib said the 50-year-old system was not designed for what it is currently experiencing.
He said creating back-up sewers could be part of the solution, which are added to an existing system, not put in place as a replacement, and said replacing all of the city’s sewers would be prohibitive.
Dib said they were in constant contact with the Wayne County Drain Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
“The Corps of Engineers study was called the 24-acre North Branch Ecorse Creek holding basin,” he said. “There were two studies: one in 2017, and one in 2019, and one came up with a $ 300 million solution and a federal 50/50 match, and communities couldn’t afford the 50% match.
Dib said the other study came up with a $ 1.7 million solution, which used a 24-acre holding pond recommended for the Inkster Road and Powers Avenue area at the city’s southern end. which would be effective for 80% of rainy events. .
Jamal said city officials would seek any funding available to mitigate the flooding.
“We will go after any penny we can get to fix the flooding in Dearborn Heights,” he said.