Car wash plans move ahead

Watertown City Hall. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Public Works officials should know more Thursday about how to handle issues with basement flooding that occurs in the city whenever a lot of rain falls over several hours.

The latest rain event occurred over the weekend when nearly 4 inches of rain fell, causing flooding in basements of homes and in some backyards.

This time, most of the flooding occurred in and around the Sherman Street and Morrow Drive neighborhoods on the south side of the city.

City firefighters responded to 45 calls for flooded basements between about 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Monday.

Some basements ended up with as much as 4 feet of water, while others had about 6 inches, Battalion Chief Tucker Wiley said. Some property owners did not think to look in their basements, so they did not even know they were flooded, he said.

“So it was all over the place,” he said.

Firefighters responded with smaller electrical pumps on most of the calls, but also had to haul heavier pumps to get water out of the worst hit basements, he said.

Public Works crews also were called out to check drainage basins to see how the system was handling all the rainwater, said Public Works Superintendent Patrick Keenan, who drove around Watertown at about 4 a.m. Sunday checking on the situation.

Mr. Keenan will meet with GHD Engineers, Syracuse, on Thursday to talk about a draft “inflow and infiltration” — known as an “IAI” study in the industry. The IAI study is expected to offer guidance on what can be done about the flooding events.

Last summer, GHD was hired to monitor water flows and see how much water goes through the drainage system. The city also conducted a smoke test on the system this spring, but is still waiting for its results.

On the south side of the city, there are separated sanitary and storm sewers, but the additional rainwater ends up in the sanitary sewers, Mr. Keenan said. When there is “too much” water, the city’s water treatment plant cannot handle all of it, so some raw sewage ends up in the Black River, he said.

The flooding happens anywhere from once to a few times a year, Mr. Keenan said. “It depends on the character of the storm.”

With the hope of resolving the flooding issue, the city has to straighten out storm sewer piping so the water does not have to go through as many angled piping, he said.

The city also has recommended property owners to install backflow preventers to stave off flooding in their basements.

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