Many Valparaiso residents awoke to Flash Flood warnings this morning. Yet, Valparaiso City Utilities was already preparing. “We knew it was coming and have been preparing for rain events like this for the past several years, with sewer separations projects, like Valparaiso Street and Evans Avenue,” said Utilities Director Steve Poulos.
Still the morning’s intense rain brought 2.3 inches in just 2.5 hours – enough to overwhelm even an improved system. “The city experienced localized street flooding and the sewer system became completely overwhelmed for a period of time. I haven’t seen the detention basins filled to this level since 2008,” said Poulos. Detention basins at Wall Street, Hawthorne, and the Thorgren Detention Basin on Evans were all at capacity. Fairgrounds Park also serves as a detention basin and the Parks Department temporarily closed the park due to the high level of water. “Recent projects have significantly improved our ability to handle extraordinary rain events like today. We had only a handful of phone calls, which was a drastic improvement over the past,” said Poulos. The $3 million Chautauqua Park stormwater project now under way will provide additional relief as Phase 1 is completed this year and Phase 2 begins in 2014.
Within hours streets reopened as floodwaters dissipated and the city’s wastewater treatment facility and pumping stations were accommodating the higher flows. The extreme nature of the rain did necessitate a combined sewer overflow, however the addition of the city’s Disinfection Facility means that the overflow was disinfected prior to release.
Utilities Urges Residents to Limit Water Use In anticipation of more rain this afternoon, Valparaiso Utilities urged residents to limit water use to avoid overwhelming the city’s sewer system. “Certainly we’re all connected via our wastewater treatment service and we ask residents to limit unnecessary water use any time we have an extreme water event so that resources can be effectively used to handle extraordinary events,” said Poulos.