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Crews on call around the clock as city deals with flood concerns

By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 15, 2014 - 6:55 PM |
Heavy rain and melting snow overwhelmed the city's drainage system in some parts of the city, Greater Sudbury officials said Tuesday.

Heavy rain and melting snow overwhelmed the city's drainage system in some parts of the city, Greater Sudbury officials said Tuesday.

Sewer backups in dozens of homes as melt overwhelms drainage capacity

Dozens of homes suffered sewer backups Monday as rapid spring melting combined with 45 milimetres of rain to overwhelm the city's drainage capacity.

Problems were mainly in the New Sudbury, Flour Mill and Coniston areas, although large pools of water have accumulated across the city.


“It's been a long winter,” said Tony Cecutti, the city's infrastructure GM, at a news conference Tuesday attended by several officials involved in flood management. “The transition from winter to summer is not going to be easy. It's going to be a challenge for us.”

With the ground still frozen, it can't absorb the moisture. So rain and melting water quickly worked itself into the drainage system and overwhelmed it, Cecutti said. About 50-60 homes reported sewage backups in Azilda, Coniston, Garson and Wanapitae.

“Most of the older drainage systems in the older part of Greater Sudbury are at their capacity,” he said.“Obviously, that does present some challenges.”

As a result, water levels rose to the point that a section of Notre Dame Avenue in the Flour Mill was closed until Tuesday afternoon. And city crews worked until 2 a.m. to get the city's overwhelmed drainage system back on line.

Nick Benkovich, the city's director of water/wastewater services, said despite the sewer backups, the city's drinking water was not affected.

“Water quality is at its normal standards,” he said.

Crews are keeping a close eye on Ramsey Lake water levels, he said, to ensure the water supply remains safe to drink.

Roads director Dave Shelsted said cold weather that moved into Sudbury created a challenge for crews, who had to deal with both flood waters, and ice that formed along with it. Once the water receded, they had to scrape the road and put salt and sand on it to make it safe to drive on.

“We ice-bladed the ice off the road,” Shelsted said. “We're going to use that technique for other areas.”

With so many crews out dealing with flooding concerns, the city had to call in contractors to sand and salt the roads after snow fell Tuesday.

Colder temperatures have slowed the melt, Cecutti said, allowing crews to get the upper hand and helping ease the worst of the flood issues. He's hoping for an extended period of cool, dry weather so the spring melt slows down.

“We'd all like it to be 20 C, so we can get golfing, but we need more snow and ice to melt before we get to that situation,” Cecutti said.

Paul Sajatovic, general manager of the Nickel District Conservation Authority, said problems will continue for some time, regardless of the weather.

“The cooler temperatures will help, but they won't stop what has started in certain parts of out watershed areas in the city,” Sajatovic said. “We have large rivers north of here that, eventually, at some point in time, will melt.

“So this is not the only potential runoff period we will have. There could be more to come. We're all, as partners, preparing and working on that.”

He stressed the importance of keeping kids away from creeks and rivers, which become especially dangerous this time of year.

“These can be magnets for small children,” Sajatovic said. “We want to ensure that no tragedies happen.”

Cecutti said residents should ensure drains and catch basins on their properties are clear so water can drain. If they need help or have questions, they can call the city's main number at 311.

“We have crews available 24 hours a day to deal with problems as they arise.”

The city's website has a lot of general advice and steps residents can take to minimize the threat of flood damage, including:

– Put weather protection sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.

– Keep your eavestroughs free of debris.

– Ensure your window wells have proper drainage.

– Clear the storm sewer grates in front of your property of debris.

More information can be found at http://www.greatersudbury.ca/living/emergency-preparedness/prepare-for-emergencies/know-what-to-do/hazard-preparedness1/flood/
Darren MacDonald

Darren MacDonald

Staff Writer

@Darrenmacd

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