Sewer backups are not new – but we need NEW THINKING to stop them in the future --- Part One

Sewage Backup, Shorewood, TIF, BID, Backflow Preventers, Basement Flooding, Raw Sewage, Government Priorities, Property Values, Floods, MMSD

I like many of you had the privilege of having sewer backups in my basement on the 14th and 22nd of last month.


I attended the “sewer” meeting in Shorewood last Thursday to learn what the officials from the Village and MMSD intended to do about stopping the raw sewage from coming into people’s homes.


What I learned is that the Village government and the MMSD had nothing new to say --- rather they put on a “dog and pony show” about the history of the sewage backups, and what has been done in the past.


I almost laughed out loud when the Shorewood DPW director went as far back as the 1980’s in regards to recalling the history of the sewage backups.  Obviously this problem is History --- Not News!


The most obvious lesson that I and a hundred or so other citizens learned was that the officials not only do not have any good plans to stop future sewage backups --- but they cannot even agree on what is currently being done.


I brought up the disconnection of downspouts.  Shorewood has fought the disconnection of downspouts for over 12 years that I know of --- and only recently has started to allow them.


This is despite the all the publicity that MMSD has put out that disconnecting downspouts is a very good thing, and takes pressure off the entire system.  Somehow MMSD’s PR Machine did not reach the consciousness of the Shorewood Village officials.


Another thing that MMSD has been promoting are BACKFLOW PREVENTERS!


Not that the MMSD official at last Thursday’s meeting got it right --- he was talking down the backflow preventers, despite his own agency endorsing and even paying for them.


Following are exerts from articles and websites of what MMSD thinks about the Backflow Preventers:



MMSD could provide funds to prevent sewage backups

Direct connections to interceptor targeted

Glendale Some homeowners on North Lydell Avenue who had sewer backups in their basement overnight July14 -15 could receive help from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. MMSD has offered to pay for backflow preventers.

City Administrator Richard Maslowski said MMSD is providing funding to municipalities to try to reduce that problem. The money could be used to install backflow preventers and to repair private sewer laterals. Private laterals typically connect buildings to city sewers but in the case of the Lydell homes they connect directly to the interceptor sewer.

Backflow preventers could reduce the risk of raw sewage entering those homes. The preventers cost $1,500 to $3,500.


Private plumbing contractors would be hired to install backflow preventers and work on the private sewer laterals.





Aim now is aid, prevention

Keeping rain from sewer laterals to take years, MMSD says

Today's TMJ4


 Storm water flowing into privately owned sanitary sewer pipes quickly fills municipal pipes and the downstream regional collection system, compromising the ability of the publicly owned sewers to carry wastewater flows during downpours, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Executive Director Kevin Shafer said Monday.

"This is overwhelming the sewer systems and causing overflows and basement backups," Shafer said Monday at a meeting of the district's commission. "A long-term program is needed to reduce this volume of water."

Inspections could begin in September and all leaks will be reported to the municipalities, he said. Each city and village will be expected to work with property owners to correct problems by replacing laterals, installing basement backflow preventers or making other improvements, Shafer said.




Another way the Village has assisted residents in the battle to manage storm water was through Operation Flood Fix, a program funded through a Community Development Block Grant, distributed primarily to low and moderate income households in the Village. Eligible households had flood-proofing improvements made to their houses, such as the installation of glass-block basement windows and back-flow prevention valves installed in their basement floor drains. Approximately 40 households in the Village had benefitted by the end of 2000. The Village obtained over $44,000 in Block Grant funds for this project

















Article Author: Kristine Johnson-Sol

Angry after sewage floods basements for three years in a row

MILWAUKEE - Hundreds of angry residents are dealing with the filthy aftermath of basement back-ups and they're now demanding solutions. For folks near 25th and Brown, hauling sewage-soaked belongings tot he curb following a heavy rainfall is becoming a nasty and frustrating summertime ritual.

MMSD budgeted a million dollars for each of the next five years to prevent back-ups by perhaps fixing pipes that run from homes to the street.

"Maybe put a backflow preventer on. That's what this funding is for that we provided to the municipalities for them to work with their residents," said Shafer.




I think the exerts above make it pretty clear that Backflow Preventers can keep sewage from coming into basements.


There are some caveats that have to be addressed:


1)      If only a few residences have the backflow preventers, they will get no sewage, but their neighbors will get more.


2)      It has long been the policy and tradition that the laterals between the houses and the sewage system, including backflow preventers, are the responsibility and expense of the property owners --- refer to #1 above --- we need NEW thinking here.


3)      NEW thinking primarily for the funding of not only Backflow Preventers, but also for all the broken and leaking laterals.  As many Northshore communities --- not just Shorewood --- seem to be able to find Million$ to give to private businesses through TIF’s , in the belief that those expenditures will increase the tax base of their community --- a theory lacking any substantial proof in almost all cases --- just think how much our communities can increase our property values, if we keep raw sewage out of the basements.





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