May 22 • 09:35 AM
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Modernize drainage system, solve county’s flooding issues

To the Editor:

We found the column pertaining to flooding in Lapeer County from Mary Stikeleather, director of the Lapeer County Office of Emergency Management of great interest. Ms. Stikeleather states that flooding is the #1 hazard in Lapeer County and that poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, snowmelt and broken water mains can all result in flood.

Maintenance of ditches is the responsibility of the road commission. Planning commissions, when approving site plans, must make certain the agricultural flow will not be changed. In 1969, a soil survey was done by the Soil Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. This survey of properties in Lapeer County provides a listing of suitability of soils, with information on suitability for crops, wild plants, hardwood and coniferous plants, wetland food and cover plants, shallow water developments, ponds, and also open, woodland and wetland wildlife.

Under Phase II of the EPA's Clean Water Act, the quality of surface water collected and discharged into surface waterways must now meet higher standards. Two pollutants of major concern are sediments and oils that are washed off the surface during a rainstorm. Soil erosion from flooding would also be of concern.

In an article about Advanced Drainage Systems-HDPE Piping, the US Environmental Protection Agency says storm water retention and detention systems are present in the industry as either above ground ponds or as subsurface piping. While ponds are the least expensive, they are the most inefficient use of developable land, are prone to early siltation and clogging, and pose long term aesthetic problems such as insect breeding, weed growth, and raise odor and refuse control issues. By comparison, subsurface retention/detention systems with oil water separators use available land efficiently while introducing low maintenance costs and posing little or no aesthetic problems.

One successful example of use of the HDPE system is reported for Lakeview, Ohio, a subdivision of Madison Township. After 25 years of persistent flooding, application was made for state public improvement funds to install a modern drainage system. Only the HDPE system fell within the funding limit. The project was accomplished within the deadline and limited budget. Since then, flooding complaints have been non-existent, despite a 100 year rain event in 1993. Perhaps our county would consider application for modernization of drainage systems with funds available under the Federal stimulus.


—Susan Sam

Imlay City

March 23, 2010

Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
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