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A flood occurs when rising levels of surface water are not contained or conveyed within the water’s normal drainage path. A sewer backup occurs when water leaving a structure’s plumbing is restricted from entering the main sewer pipe located in the street. In extended wet conditions, the water is pushed back and enters the structure through “any way possible”, including drains and fixtures.
A flood and a sewer backup can occur at the same time. This is most prevalent in areas where open drainage courses are adjacent to developments where footing drains are connected to the sanitary sewer.
According to a survey conducted in 1996, approximately 9,100 homes in Midland had footing drains connected to the sanitary sewer system. The City has approximately 16,000 residential homes. Assuming that none of those who were still connected in 1996 have disconnected, the percentage of homes remaining connected to the sanitary sewer system is approximately 57%; however, the upcoming study will seek to verify and update this information. Since 1987, City ordinance has prohibited newly-constructed homes from connecting footing drains to the sanitary sewer system.
If you own a home that was built after 1987, it is highly unlikely that your footing drain remains connected to the sanitary sewer system. If you are unsure how your footing drain connects to the City’s sewer systems, please contact the City Engineering Department at 989-837-3348.
This process can be complex and may require acquiring permits and working with a licensed plumber. Each home’s requirement may differ based on age, location, structure, etc., so please contact the Engineering Department at 989-837-3348 for more information
Backflow valves installed on the sanitary discharge pipe of your home are permitted and can be an effective solution to prevent sewage from entering your home due to a surcharged public sewer main. However, if you install one without disconnecting your footing drains from the sanitary sewer, you may still be at risk of backing up from your own water use activities and from your footing drain contributions. Always seek the advice from qualified professionals before implementing any changes to your plumbing.
All sewage is pumped to the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Bay City Road, where the flow is treated before being discharged back into the Tittabawassee River. For more information on the WWTP and how the process works, please visit the Wastewater Treatment Department page.
All pumping stations throughout the City collect and push directly to the Wastewater Treatment Plant for treatment.
The Sanford Dam is routinely “opened”, or spilled, at night. Spilling the Sanford Dam causes river water upstream of Sanford Lake to pass through to Midland. The Sanford Dam is a federally-regulated structure and is not used as a flood control dam. Ideally, the operators of the dam pass river water through it in a similar manner as would happen if the dam was not there; however, as more water enters Sanford Lake from the north, the dam will need to release more water as well. The operators of the dam have certain protocols that they must follow to regulate the flow of the water leaving the lake. Unfortunately for Midland, these protocols have very little to do with controlling the flow of water that heads downstream to Midland. Emergency Services and Central Dispatch are notified when Sanford Dam begins spilling and when those spills increase and decrease.
Please remember: if Sanford Dam was not there, this water would still reach Midland and the river levels would be elevated.