Report: Norwalk flooding could be prevented

Cars navigate a flooded Water Street in this file photo.

NORWALK, Conn. – It wouldn’t cost much to cut down high tide flooding on Water Street, according to a report commissioned by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

A recommendation to install flap gates in storm water drains at the intersection of Raymond and Day streets and cleaning out storm drainage pipes is made in the South Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Study submitted by Tighe & Bond, a regional engineering and environmental consulting firm. Six flap gates are recommended at a cost of $1,500 each, a total of $9,000. There is no cost estimate given for cleaning out the pipes.

“The folks from Tighe and Bond are saying that if you actually had that maintenance done on a much more regular schedule you could alleviate a lot of the flooding problems that you see,” RDA Director Tim Sheehan said.

The report was delivered in November 2012, Sheehan said. It came to NancyOnNorwalk’s attention two weeks ago when Ganga Duleep, Anna Duleep and Diane Cece asked to see it. Ganga Duleep is concerned about what effect the redevelopment of Washington Village might have on Ryan Park and wanted help studying the information.

The women read the recommendation for flap gates and pipe cleaning and wondered why the work hadn’t been done.

“I would suggest to you the issue has been raised with the Department of Public Works,” Sheehan said Monday. “That would be the place that you would probably want to begin.”

DPW director Hal Alvord said he hadn’t seen the report.

“I’m not going to get real specific because I haven’t seen the report,” Alvord said. “We can clean the pipes out but you’re going to have standing water in those pipes as we have already. We’ve looked at back flow preventers or tide gates before and we haven’t done it for the obvious reasons, but that’s all I’m going to say because, honestly, I haven’t seen the report. So we’re going to have to take a look at it. I’m going to need my engineers to take a look at it and see what we think.”

Sheehan said the report has been discussed multiple times with DPW. A copy of it is in engineer Dick Linnartz’ desk, he said.

Water Street 100610 008
The boats are high and dry, but a car splashes through a flooded part of Water Street in this file photo.

Water Street floods regularly when there is a high tide. Drivers pass through without realizing that it is salt water, which can damage a vehicle’s engine.

“There is an outflow that needs to be addressed with the flaps,” he said. “Even when there is not a storm event water comes up and that’s because of high tide. They’re saying you could correct that by installing the flaps and you could significantly improve the drainage in terms of storm events that happen. You could significantly improve the drainage out if you basically took care of the maintenance issue associated with the cleaning of the sewers.”

The report focused on an area that encompassed the rectangle formed by Hanford Street, South Main Street, Water Street and Concord Street. Sheehan said the whole drainage system there would work better by doing the work recommended in the report, alleviating Water Street flooding caused by storms.

“It’s just common sense,” he said. “If I have a drain on Raymond Street and the water is not going down that drain appropriately it’s moving to the lowest place it can go. Which is Water Street.

“Because when you look at the grade, the grade from Main Street goes down as you get closer to the water, obviously. The last street there is Water Street. So what happens is it all pools onto Water Street.”


13 responses to “Report: Norwalk flooding could be prevented”

  1. Don’t Panic

    FACT, Mr. Kimmel. Regular flooding that is not Wolfpit or Olmstead.

  2. Diane C2

    And now folks know why I objected strongly to the Norwalk Housing Authority seeking FEMA Hurricane Sandy funds as part of their Washington Village redevelopment.
    They, the DPW and this administration have let the residents there suffer with the fear of property damage from floods, all because, once again, Hal Alvord fails to properly maintain the pipes. Period. Same thing on Olmstead, and same thing in every flooding neighborhood. It’s simple Mr. Alvord – clean the effing pipes.
    For all the years he’s worked with Tighe and Bond engineers on all your pet projects, did it never occur to Mr. Alvord to have then investigate flooding on Water Street, or did he just conclude with his usual sarcasm that that’s why it’s called Water Street?
    Washington Village residents should unite and seek legal help to at least receive financial compensation from the city and the Housing Authority.

  3. jlightfield

    If only it were so simple. Water is an amazing force of nature and while putting flaps on storm drains can help, it is not the only engineering that has to be done in order to reduce flooding. The water table of the area around Water Street is a problem too. An engineering study would need to be done and a shoreline management plan should be front and center for any political candidate these days.

  4. M Allen

    See that big body of liquid? I’m not sure how it got there but it may come closer. You might want to consider not living so close to it. If we can’t stop the flooding from occurring, literally stop if from happening, then perhaps we should be considering relocation.

  5. piberman

    Maybe one day City Officials more familiar with sea level rise predictions will think about putting flood gates in the harbor as Stamford did eons ago. Sandy proved their value. We all know why its called “Water Street”.

  6. M Allen

    Are you referring to the hurrican barrier in Stamford? Isn’t that owned and operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers? Not sure what Stamford paid into it back then or what the costs of such a solution would be to the taxpayers of Norwalk.

  7. Suzanne

    How much did this study cost? Why is it Hal Alvord routinely gets to deny his responsibilities by pleading ignorance? Why isn’t regular maintenance done on these pipes, crucial to lessen if not prevent flooding, by the DPW? Why isn’t Norwalk divided by the DPW into grids with each systematically reviewed for repair (including sidewalks and potholes), clearing roadways, tidying up drains, cleaning pipes? It seems like a lack of organization and taking responsibility has been running our DPW long enough. Mr. Alvord has lied to me, to my ear (over the phone), about an extensive conversation regarding Ryan Park: unless he has some kind of neurological disability and since I had my notes with me, dated and clear, it is clear Mr. Alvord is either overwhelmed by his duties or simply doesn’t care about them. I guess it is so much easier to NOT do work and plead ignorance than to do it on behalf of the citizens which he serves so our communities would be that much more livable. I don’t get it: doesn’t he understand the importance of what he and his staff does? I guest not: Water Street, ignoring a study, maintenance, the basics, are just something he can’t remember.

  8. Oldtimer

    It sounds so easy, Water St is higher than the water, why doesn’t.t the water drain ? The storm drain pipes that are supposed to carry the water away work fine at low tide, even though they are under Water st. As soon as the water level in the river gets above those pipes, not the street, the drain pipes become ineffective until the tide goes back down. Tidal gates are not likely to be much help and also require regulate maintenance.
    Alvord claiming he hasn’t seen a study delivered almost a year is hard to believe. Fixing the flooding on Water st will require a lot more than a few gates. The entire drainage system will probably need to be replaced.

  9. Suzanne

    Oldtimer, I understand your perspective but why would Tighe and Bond believe differently if their study shows that the steps they recommend would mitigate the problem?

  10. Tim T

    You state

    “Why isn’t Norwalk divided by the DPW into grids with each systematically reviewed for repair (including sidewalks and potholes), clearing roadways, tidying up drains, cleaning pipes”
    Also let us not forget that you feel we need unused bike paths all over town for the 1 percent that seem to think taxpayers should pay for their recreation.

    Just where do you think the money is going to come from for all your lofty ideas???
    We need to increase the tax base which you seem to think is a bad idea as in BJ’s. Maybe you would like to donate to pay for your suggestions as I for one am not needing a tax increase

  11. Suzanne

    Tim T – whatever the features of the design elements of roadways, byways, passageways, flooding prevention, etc., that the DPW is in charge of maintaining seems to be on a reactive basis. If a citizen happens to call it in, then attention is paid to the repair. What I am saying is, have a regular system of inspection that is proactive and assesses what needs to be done then schedule it. It does not appear this is what the DPW is doing in spite of recommendations, resolutions and studies. Intransigence by the responsible department in this area really affects the quality of life of every citizen which is what, I presume, you and I pay our taxes for.

  12. Mike Rotch

    Since the Mayor was smart enough to cut funding to NEON, we have an extra $1.3 Million sitting around. Why not use that to fix a few things around the city?

  13. Don’t Panic

    Maybe they used it to “pay off” the Maritime Aquarium bond.

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