Norwalk DPW claims progress already made in flooding problems

Norwalk Department of Public Works (DPW) Principal Engineer Lisa Burns, right, on Tuesday explains work that’s being done to stop flooding on a Lyncrest Drive home, where a sinkhole recently developed.

NORWALK, Conn. – A consultant should be lined up to help Norwalk with its flooding issues on June 4, but progress has already been made, according to the Department of Public Works.
More than 131 tons of sediment has been removed from 23,582 feet of pipes, at a cost of $32,679 for City staff labor and $19,962 for equipment, DPW Principal Engineer Lisa Burns and Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works Anthony Robert Carr said Tuesday to the Common Council Public Works Committee.
It’s been raining but complaints have not come tumbling in, they said.

The City plans a May 28 Public Information Session with a consultant who’s been hired to dredge five locations, to allow residents to express feelings and stories about how they have been affected by flooding, and learn about the dredging, Carr said.  That consultant would the pass along the information to the consultant who’s hired to study broader flooding issues.

“No matter how small or big all neighborhoods and areas treated fairly,” Carr said.

Flooding has become a major issue, with Mayor Harry Rilling explaining in October that, “Norwalk experienced more rain in just one week than it usually does over two full months.”

A Sept. 25 storm sent 105 million gallons of stormwater through a system built to handle 90 million gallons a day, Public Works Committee Chairman John Igneri (D-District E) said in October, and the Council in November appropriated $1 million, at Rilling’s request, to begin working on flooding issues.

Jacobs Engineering Group was hired as a consultant and will do dredging work, Burns said, and another consultant will do a comprehensive study.

The City received 14 proposals in response to a Request for Qualifications and that’s been shortlisted to about four finalists, Carr said. Interviews will be concluded by May 17

“We’ve worked with all them in some capacity. So we’re excited to interview each one. And, you know, we don’t have any idea on cost yet,” he said.

Actual field work “could probably be in as early as July,” he said. “…We have to develop a scope with them. And that’s gonna be a little bit of a back and forth, utilizing what we learned in the public session, focusing on the areas that we have in our database that have been problematic through resident complaints and also are known prior to this.”

It will be fall before a report is developed, he said, commenting, “I want to make sure we get everything dotted, crossed.  because later on, we’re moving towards the recommendations on short- and long-term fixes. And the last thing we want to do is, is spend capital funding and have little to no benefit.”

On May 14, the Conservation Commission will consider dredging proposals for:

  • Lloyd Road
  • Teakettle Place
  • Keeler Avenue
  • Ponus Avenue
  • Hunter’s Lane


And will hopefully approve them on May 28, Carr said.

The contract will be open, as “it doesn’t just include the five areas that includes a whole bunch of on call,” Burns said. “…as things are identified, we can use that service in other locations, because you know, and there’s also some heavy pipe cleaning in that contract.”

Public Works hadn’t flagged County Street as an issue before last month’s Committee meeting, because complaints hadn’t come through Customer Service, but the team went into gear, investigated and cleaned “23,500 feet of really big pipe,” Burns said, listing:

  • 56 feet of 54-inch x 48-inch corrugated metal pipe (CMP)
  • 929.9 feet of 36-inch CMP
  • 311.8 feet of 36-inch Reinforced Concrete Pipe (RCP)


The big pipes are in culverts and “that 24,000 linear foot number that you saw was all the piping network within Andrews field,” Carr explained.

Ponding behind homes has decreased, they said.

“The waterline receded approximately 30 to 40 feet from the edges of the properties that it was previously affecting,” Carr said. “… A lot of these issues can be remedied with basic maintenance. You clean inlets and outlets and you dredge channels. I mean you really do see a quick and immediate benefit.”

Burns spoke of a $6,000 router head and a vacuum truck, and Carr said debris that’s been in a pipe for a long time is like hard packed snow.

“It’s really, really difficult and that’s why our heavy cleaning contractor is going to most likely revisit some of these areas and go back to some of the culverts because Public Works, they were at it for a few weeks and the equipment is limited,” Carr said. “…for the equipment we have the staff did an amazing job.”

They also talked of a home that was flooded in all three of last year’s big storms, on Lyncrest Drive. There was a private pipe connecting to the City’s system and “the hydraulic surcharge was so great” that “it blew that pipe apart in these people’s backyard. And it caused a huge sinkhole, and it caused their property to be flooded,” Burns said, linking the issue to increased drainage from the Nathan Hale Middle School athletic field.

DPW investigated, the hired AJ Penna through a Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) contract, for a “pretty good-sized water main relocation,” Burns said.

The cost so far is $80,000 and two existing catch basins are going to be removed, creating a bypass from the system, she explained.

The homeowner has put in an insurance claim and there will obviously be a determination made about liability, with negotiations handled by the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA), Burns said.

All told, “we have a pretty big list of things we’ve been working through,” Burs said. “And they kind of fell in all different kinds of categories. Some are some are getting knocked off the list.”


Bruce Kimmel May 10, 2019 at 10:33 am

This is great news. And long-overdue. We’ve been wrestling with flooding and flood-related issues for a long time. Going forward, we need to make sure our capital budgets provide the funds to keep this initiative going.

Piberman May 10, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Norwalk harbor and surrounding lands remain highly vulnerable to a major storm and ever higher high tides associated with rising Sound waters. So far City hall hasn’t addressed these well problems that have galvanized virtually all shoreline CT communities.

Decades ago Stamford installed a highly successful Hurricane Gate that’s repeatedly proved its worth.

Why does it matter. Major flooding from the next major hurricane will likely serverely damage and devalue properties. Mayor Rilling has said Norwalk is a “maritime community”. So time to get going and put in the requisite planning for the next major storm. Waiting for the next storm is not a “solution”.

Debora Goldstein May 11, 2019 at 9:50 am

Well said, Mr. Kimmel. Year after year, capital budget requests for flood mitigation funding are trimmed back during the budget process, and it shouldn’t be.

We are all taking note of the victory lap, now that funds are finally appropriated for a problem that has grown too big too ignore, and the neighbors are storming (pardon the pun) the Public Works committee meetings.

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