LOCKPORT, NY – A recent bout of basement flooding in homes where sewer backups have occurred after heavy rains, has the City of Lockport taking steps to try and solve a thorny problem for some residents, particularly in the areas of Pine Street and Coolidge Drive.
“We understand a lot of people have finished basements and it’s horrible when you have sewage backing up into a basement,” said Common Council President David R. Wohleben. “So if we find a problem in those systems it will be fixed.”
Although he has heard some talk among residents that their problems may somehow be related to recent shoreline flooding along Lake Ontario, Wohleben says that concept is far-fetched to say the least.
“I don’t believe that has anything to do with this at all,” Wohleben told WGRZ-TV.
Lockport’s storm and sanitary sewers go to the city’s waste water treatment plant in the city's lower town
section. All the water treated there goes into 18 mile creek, which eventually goes to already-swollen Lake Ontario.
However, Wohleben notes that Lake Ontario is 14 miles away, and for the water to back up into the city, it would first have to somehow climb back up the escarpment.
That near impossibility aside, even if that occurred, every street in the city might be experiencing problems. Not just a few in particular where flooding has occurred before.
Wohleben chalks what happened at the homes in question to an already saturated spring, exacerbated by one particular deluge back in May.
“Normally we have about five million gallons of water a day that goes down to the waste water treatment plant. During that one event, we had 80 million gallons,” he said.
“The city engineer suggested that we hire a company that has a camera system to go down into the sewer and see if we have some sort of collapse, blockage, or some sort of sediment buildup,” said Wohleben, who noted the process began on Thursday.
Wohleben also noted that Lockport’s sewer system is somewhat different than in many other communities, because in many places the storm and sanitary sewers utilize the same system of pipes.
That means that during heavy rains, the system becomes more easily taxed resulting in backups.
According to Wohleben, there is a project in the works that will see those systems separated, with some storm waters being drained into the Erie Canal, while sanitary sewage will continue to be pumped to the treatment plant, in hopes of reliving the problem.
“We’re going to start on High Street near Transit Road, and we’ll go as far as the $1.6 million we have for that project will take us,” he said.