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September sewer updates..

Deluge, Trustees, Village Hall

I haven't been writing much lately for a variety of reasons, but mostly due to the large quantity of hours spent at Village Hall.    Prior to July, the Trustee (and EAC) meetings rarely had a single audience member.  

Since the July flooding events, we've had dozens in the audience, and each meeting has been a marathon, lasting long into the night.  Monday, we finally broke the 6 hour barrier, getting a 2nd wind around 11pm, getting home at 1am.

Since many citizens have suggested the Village has been ignoring our sewers for years, I'd like to mention a report given Monday that refutes that contention:

Since 2006, Whitefish Bay has spent $12.5 million of your dollars on sanitary and sewer improvements, which involved replacing or rehabbing 52,000+ lineal feet of sewers.   That may not resonate, but this should:  52,000 feet is 24% of the entire sewer system, all since 2006.

So what has that, and previous improvements done over the past 10-15 years bought us?

Well .. one way to estimate the impact, is to look at other large rain events, with the caveat that every rain event is admittedly different.

So, pop quiz, which storm would you expect to have more houses flooded?

A) 4.7 inches of rain over 10 hours

B) 7.0 inches of rain over 6 hours

B, right?  More rain in less time  = more wet basements?  Nope.  

In 1997, 4.7 inches of rain fell in 10 hours .. a study was conducted and 919 WFB homes reported flooding/backups in their basement.

On July 22, 2010, we had 7.0 inches in 6 hours (or 11" if you believe the Shorewood number.)  As of 9/17, 744 homes have reported flooding/backups in their basement.  (Yes, I realize that number will go higher as more data is received.)

Now, 744 is not the goal.  Zero is the goal, especially for sanitary backup.  But the math does hint that the sewer improvements over the past 13 years has had some impact, when we received the largest rainfall on the historical record, but had (so far) fewer reports of problems.

I don't write that to suggest we are staying the same course.   The consulting RFPs will arrive in October, and we'll get more expert advice on how to augment and prioritize the effort.

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One other item I'd like to address is a persistent inaccuracy.  Many have noted that a number of municipal buildings, like Village Hall, have rain downspouts going into the ground, and have criticized the village for the appearance of sending rain water into the sanitary sewers.  This is false.   Many municipal, school, and commercial buildings do indeed have downspouts going into the ground -- but they go into STORM sewer laterals. This has been the case since (at least) the 50s.

That being said, no harm in double checking.  As you may have read, last week the Village stumbled upon two storm drains on Lake Drive that were connected to the sanitary system.   These connections were undocumented, and escaped detection for 80+ years.   I asked Village Engineer Dan Naze (rhymes with maze) if smoke testing should have discovered these issues.  The answer was "maybe and maybe not" depending on the smoke source, pressure, and apparently the circuitous route these inlets took. -- Regardless, plans are being made to check some 70 inlets on Lake in the short term.  I would like to see a long term plan to check all suspect inlets across the Village.

One other item .. some have commented that, in this case, the Village is focusing on Lake Drive because "it's a wealthy area."    -- You've got to be kidding me.

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Couple other quick hits .. the final 2010 WFB Farmers' Market was yesterday.  Congrats to the WFB BID for this great new addition to Silver Spring.  I look forward to it next year.

Finally, I spoke to the "Three Wishes" proprietors yesterday, next to Starbucks .. they are aiming to open in 2-3 weeks.   Three Wishes is .. Giraffe 2.0.  (Giraffe is now under construction to become the new City Market.)

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