How vacant land can keep sewage out of the River

Thursday, September 25 was the last in the series of Mayor Duggan’s charter-mandated district-based meetings. In the sanctuary of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Mayor Duggan clicked through slides detailing his accomplishments in lighting up the streets, addressing the water shutoffs, explaining the Great Lakes Water Authority, and his plan for getting buses to run property.

The best part of the meeting for me were his responses to two resident questions.

1. An older lady stood up and told the Mayor that after the heavy storms a couple weeks ago the water was so high in her basement that she could float a pickle in it. The Mayor responded that he hadn’t included it in his water presentation, but in our combined sewer system, rainwater goes into the same pipes as sewage. When it rains a lot, that combined sewage gets backed up into the basements. So with some of the revenue from leasing the regional pipes, he hopes to create what’s called green infrastructure, which will let the rainwater filter naturally back into the ground and keep it out of the sewer system. (!)

2. A little later, another older lady told the Mayor that she lived on (Crane, I think) a block with only five houses left standing. That there was a lot of vacant lot and that someone had planted a bunch of trees on it. She asked what he was going to do about it, and said she wanted to see more houses. The Mayor responded that Hantz [Woodlands] was planting forests, that there would be retention ponds to deal with the flooding issues, and that he hoped he could encourage those five households to move to houses in a different neighborhood and fill it up.

If this mayor can make these things happen, that will be a major accomplishment for clean water, blight remediation, and quality of life.