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Detroit Water & Sewerage Dept Vs. Flood

Detroit Water & Sewerage Dept responds to severe flooding throughout the city following nearly seven inches of rain

  • Since Friday, many areas of Detroit received as much as seven inches of rain, causing widespread street flooding, and in some locations, basement backups

  • DWSD crews and contractors have been responding to severely flooded areas since early Saturday morning

  • Great Lakes Water Authority reports that all systems are back to normal levels as flood waters recede

  • A hotline and online reporting system has been established to report property damage caused by the flooding

DETROIT – Since Friday night, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) crews have been responding to severely flooded neighborhoods to clean sewer pipes and catch basins that were overwhelmed by seven inches of the rain within a few hours. Other city departments, including the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the General Services Department (GSD), are cleaning streets and removing debris.

“Our heart goes out to the many residents who had their homes flood, which included some of our own city employees,” said DWSD Director Gary Brown. “The intensity of the storms last night exceeded the design standards for pump stations and combined sewer overflow facilities serving the Detroit region, which are operated by the Great Lakes Water Authority. With this much rain, there was nowhere for the water to go other than to flood streets and basements.”

What Happened Friday Night The National Weather Service has a flood warning in effect and up to seven inches of torrential rain fell overnight in the Detroit area. Multiple weather services and forecasters predicted less than 2 inches of rain. That much volume overwhelmed the regional and local sewer systems.

Brown added, “This is another example of global warming and how our infrastructure needs to expand to meet these weather changes.”

City of Detroit Responds DWSD crews and Vactor trucks have been dispatched to hard hit areas to unclog catch basins blocked with trash and debris due to the storms.

The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) reports that both the Connor Creek combined sewer overflow facility and pumping station, as well as the Freud pumping station, are all working within capacity currently and levels are down to normal. Once this rain event is concluded, GLWA will perform an investigation of system operations, as will DWSD.

The City of Detroit and DWSD’s focus is on taking care of Detroit residents. With an extraordinary storm like this, there was a significant amount of elevated water in the system, which led to several hundred, at least, Detroit households experiencing water in their basements and sewage backups, especially in the flood plain areas. DWSD has been in areas of the city with heavy flooding since last night, and is working with the GLWA to ensure systems are operating at maximum capacity and managing as much flow as possible.

DPW, GSD and other city departments are cleaning streets and removing debris today and are expected to continue working through the weekend.

What Residents Can Do Detroit residents who have experienced severe water damage in their basements should contact DWSD at 313-267-8000 in order for it to know who has been affected, and to provide important information to make a damage claim. DWSD has additional customer service staff on duty this weekend to take calls and it asks for your patience due to the high volume of calls.

Residents can also visit the City of Detroit website at and click on the red bar at the top to report property damage due to flooding, or go to Residents must notify the utility within 45 days from the date they suffer damage, which is state law. Those living in nearby communities should call their designated city or township office to report flooding.

DWSD offers the following safety tips for residents:

  • Do not walk in standing water in your basement if the area includes electrical appliances, outlets, and wires.

  • Do not drive through flooded streets.

  • If you see a catch basin covered in trash, please remove the trash and debris.

  • With continued rainfall expected over the next several days, DWSD strongly urges residents to take precautions to protect property, including:

    • Make sure valuables are stored several feet above basement floors or move valuables to an upper floor in case you experience a flooded basement.

    • Clean your gutters and downspouts if you can safely do so – make sure there are no items blocking the exit of your downspouts.

About The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) serves more than 230,000 accounts that include a residential population of nearly 700,000. DWSD’s water system consists of more than 2,700 miles of water main and 30,000-plus fire hydrants, and the combined sewer collection system has nearly 3,000 miles of sewer piping, more than 90,000 catch basins and 16 green stormwater infrastructure projects within the city of Detroit. Beginning in June 2019, DWSD embarked on a five-year, $500 million program to begin to address the aging infrastructure, including replacing lead service lines. To learn more about DWSD or to request water services, make payments, enroll in assistance programs, or report water or sewer emergencies, call DWSD Customer Care at 313-267-8000, use the Improve Detroit mobile app, or visit

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