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City of Detroit to spend $2 million on dams along Detroit River to prevent anticipated flooding

City takes preventative steps to prepare for expected rise in water levels

A view of Detroit from Belle Isle on July 6, 2018. (Dave Bartkowiak Jr./WDIV)
A view of Detroit from Belle Isle on July 6, 2018. (Dave Bartkowiak Jr./WDIV)

DETROIT – The city of Detroit announced that it will install temporary dams along the Detroit river and canal seawalls beginning the week of March 30 to help prevent flooding in surrounding areas, officials said.

The Detroit Board of Water Commissioners has approved a $2 million budget for the project.

According to the statement, the lower east side of Detroit was overcome by rising water levels last year and the dams are an effort to prevent that from happening again.

The temporary dams will also protect the city’s combined sewer system from becoming overwhelmed during wet weather events and prevent pump failure, officials said.

“Last year, nearly 7 billion gallons of river and storm water flowed to the treatment facility at Connor Creek and the pumps are not designed to work for 24 hours on multiple days,” the statement said.

The new Tiger Dam™ System is comprised of flexible tubes stacked into a pyramid formation that will act as a barrier to protect buildings, resort properties and other structures before a flood occurs, officials said. The tubes can be linked together seamlessly for miles, filling with water when levels rise and releasing water when levels decrease, according to officials.

According to officials, residents were notified of the project last week and were asked to remove any obstacles from their property. The city is moving quickly on this project to get ahead of rising water levels that are “expected to exceed last year’s record setting levels across the Great Lakes”, the statement said.

Detroit uses a combined sewer system in which untreated sewage from homes and businesses and storm water flow into the same pipe to be treated at the Water Resource Recovery Facility in southwest Detroit before being discharged into the rivers, officials said.

Wet weather events can overwhelm treatment facilities and sewer systems, and untreated sewage has the potential to flow into the rivers or even back up into residents’ basements, officials said.

The statement claims the temporary dams will help protect the Connor Creek wet weather treatment facility, which serves a large portion of Detroit and suburban communities, and ensure it can withstand future wet weather events.

Assembly of the dam is expected to be completed by May 1, officials said.

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