LIMA — If the last two months of rain proved anything, it’s that the City of Lima’s water infrastructure has a hard time dealing with 17 inches of precipitation.
And as many property owners already know, much of the water that is normally piped to the Ottawa River is finding other places to flood — mainly basements and yards.
As a result, the City of Lima has received dozen of calls from residents about flooded basements in the last two months, and with more rain on the way in June, the city is now trying to get in front of the problem by offering the expertise of the city’s sanitation and storm-water management teams.
“If it’s wet, there’s a reason,” Mayor David Berger said. “We want to encourage folks when it comes to management of rainwater.”
Normally, the city’s infrastructure can handle most storms, Public Works Director Howard Elstro said, but the amount of rainfall in both April and May have inundated the system. By the city’s measurement, the two months each saw 8.5 inches of rain, meaning the region saw half of its average annual rainfall in just two months.
“When we’re impacted by this volume of water, (the systems) get overwhelmed,” Elstro said.
Meanwhile, residents with flooded basements have not been happy. Elstro said there’s been no official count of the number of residents affected, but he estimated that for every call the city has received there’s probably another two dozen who have worked to deal with the issue without calling. For that reason, the city decided to offer a number of quick tips.
The first is that residents need to ensure the water is being directed into city infrastructure. Just like property owners have to gather leaves in the fall for city pickup, property owners have to make sure water is being properly funneled into the city’s sewer and stormwater system in order to send the water where it needs to go, Elstro said.
For many property owners, however, that’s easier said than done. For a start, Elstro encouraged residents to ensure sump pumps, valves and caps are working properly. Other quick tips include repairing cracks and holes in a basement’s wall or foundation, checking and extending drainage spouts further away from a building’s foundation and making sure that stormwater basins on the street outside of a property isn’t clogged from trash or other debris.
While such solutions can help with flooding issues, the single thing that will eliminate the problem entirely is if it stops raining in the first place. Councilor Sam McLean offered such a solution during council’s June 3 meeting.
“We need to get on our knees and talk to God. We can’t change the amount of water that we got,” McLean said. “We know it’s tiring. We know it’s a pain, but it being the city’s fault, it’s not.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.