Windsor City Council meets on September 5, 2017. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

City Unveils Plan To Improve Sewers

The City of Windsor is proposing a plan to upgrade the city’s sewer system.

Last week’s flooding, the worst in the city’s history, was a major topic at Tuesday night’s Windsor City Council meeting. Mayor Drew Dilkens used the meeting to describe efforts the city has made to help residents clean up after the flood, using the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy (BFPS) to help affected residents make improvements to their homes, and taking precautions in the hope that the flooding does not happen again.

As of Wednesday morning, 5,442 households in Windsor reported flooding to the 311 Call Centre.

The eight-point plan revealed Tuesday includes stepping up the city’s sewer master plan changes.

“We’re in the midst of developing that sewer master plan which will inform council for future big-ticket items,” says Dilkens. “In the short term, there are some things we need to do in order to try to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the city of Windsor, that these basements don’t flood.”

The mayor says another point of the plan is to expedite funding for the ongoing Riverside Vista project.  That is currently outside of council’s five-year capital budget.

“[This was] something that council approved ten years ago,” says Dilkens. “We know we’ve had significant flooding in certain places on Riverside Dr. when we have heavy rain. There’s been, quite frankly, some significant devastation to homes in that area.”

Another key point; the city will work with the Town of Tecumseh to review policies about sewers in new developments.

Tecumseh also experienced flooding in last week’s storms and had major flooding last September.

The eight-point plan as a whole is as follows:

  • Windsor will work with Tecumseh on a review of development policies relating to sewer management and ongoing development.
  • Windsor will pay the total cost of installing a backflow valve and sump pump through the BFPS, with priority going to residents with basement flooding.
  • Windsor is looking into adding the disconnection of weeping tiles from the sanitary to the storm sewer to the BFPS.
  • Windsor is investigating the addition of sewage ejection pumps to the BFPS along with its inclusion in future development projects.
  • Windsor will implement a mandatory downspout disconnection policy, with exemptions on a case-by-case basis.
  • Windsor will expedite completion of the sewer master plan.
  •  City Council will be asked to sole-source Phase Two to Dillon Consulting, who is working on the Phase One report.
  • Windsor urges the province of Ontario to establish a provincial insurance plan that will let affected residents buy flood coverage when no option is available, as well as ask the province to make amendments to the Disaster Recovery Assistance Program, which currently excludes coverage for sewer backup.

Dilkens expects a report on the BFPS to be presented to council’s next meeting.  He hopes to implement it as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the mayor announced that debris pickup from the floods would continue as long as needed.

The city is calling in additional trucks to handle the volume and has even contacted the city of Detroit for help.

Dilkens is also discouraging residents from helping themselves to debris left by the curb, saying that those items may have been in contact with sewage or bacteria, and could be contaminated.