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Tips to avoid flooding problems due to warmer temperatures, melting snow

(Photo Courtesy/Mike Beiermeister) Keeping storm drain catch basins is key to avoiding yard and street flooding.

Alpena, Mich. — Warmer temperatures have made their way back to the Sunrise Side which means the snow is starting to melt.

Excessive snow melting can cause a headache for homeowners, businesses, and the city of Alpena’s water treatment plant. Suez Utilities Manager Mike Glowinski has been with the company for 33 years. His team usually fields 4 to 5 calls a day in regards to flooding as it temperatures begin to rise.

“All of the streets are designed with a separate sewer system,” said Glowinski. “The storm sewer is a completely different sewer system that drains to the surface water, either to Thunder Bay or to the river.”

Suez maintains a sanitary sewer system which takes all of the waste water from homes and businesses. The water must be treated before it gets discharged to the surface water.

One of the top tips is keeping your catch water basin or storm sewer catch basin clear of snow and debris, so water can drain properly. Storm drains that have backups from snow melt experience what is called ponding or puddling where large quantities of water accumulate, causing flooding. Ponding or puddling comes from the storm sewer catch basins or just regular catch basins near a house. Catch basins are designed differently than the normal storm sewer0-grated catch basin seen in the streets.

“A lot of times that will take digging around in the snow pile to expose the catch basin,” said Glowinski. “If you just get a shovel and start cleaning it off, once the water starts flowing into it, it will melt the snow and make the catch basin function properly.”

Glowinski also noted that there are problems where ground water can get into a basement due to snowmelt and ice thawing. Basements with sump pumps can experience a bit of flooding if that system is not taken care of properly.

“Customers should make sure that they check those sump pumps to make sure that they’re working number one,” said Glowinski. “Number two, you probably want to lift the float on it to make sure that when it does pump, the lines not plugged up, so it will drain properly and not fill up your basement.”

Folks with drains in their basement should make sure those are clear should ground water seep in through the foundation.

One final tip, don’t drive through puddling water. The driver does not know how to deep the actually water is. Puddles can be deceiving and ruin your car.

if you run into problems, see ponding or puddling, or need your storm drain cleared out, contact Suez Utilities (989-354-1400) or the Alpena Department of Public Works (989-354-1780) for assistance.