Variety of fixes aims to prevent a repeat of sewage- and stormwater-flooded basements in Everett

EVERETT — Remember that spring deluge last year that dumped more than 2 million gallons of water in 19 minutes?

Chances are the answer is “yes” if you live in the north end of Everett.

That’s because the freak st

orm sent raw sewage and storm water into dozens of basements.

The city is still paying off claims.

It’s also trying to keep the problem from happening again. That’s difficult because sewage and stormwater share a single pipe in north Everett, and it’s too expensive to add more.

Public Works Director Dave Davis outlined what the city has done so far.

Assessed sewer system drainage: After the storm, the city took a closer look at the land and how water moves and have since found places were improvements, such as bigger pipes, will likely make a difference.

Sewer upgrades on Lombard Avenue: Workers just completed a $5 million project that replaced aging sewer lines with newer, larger ones and also separated the sewer system from the stormwater system on problem blocks.

More upgrades coming: The city identified an area near Colby Avenue, Hoyt Avenue and 15th Street that could benefit from some of the same upgrades as Lombard Avenue. The city is in the planning stages of that project now.

Installed free back-flow valves: The city approached homeowners who have had problems and offered to pay to put in a back-flow valve that can help prevent stormwater from coming back up pipes. The city also had those homeowners agree to let the city inspect their sewer systems periodically to make sure everything was operating correctly.

Trying out new approaches: The city is testing out different types of rain gardens in Everett yards. Rain gardens are planted depressions in the ground that slow down and absorb rainwater in urban settings. The high, hard glacial till in north Everett is particularly slow to absorb surface water so the city is testing rain gardens that pierce that layer with injection wells or an auger. It’s not clear if the benefit will outweigh the costs, Davis said.

Applying what’s learned to future plans: The city already is working on a sewer plan and what’s learned will be incorporated into that effort. They’re also researching what other cities are doing to see if there are good ideas Everett might try. Portland, Ore., for instance, pays homeowners to disconnect downspouts in order to reduce the amount of stormwater flowing into systems.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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