AP

Detroit-area utility denies flooding claims from 2021 storm

Jul 19, 2022, 9:45 AM | Updated: 9:59 am

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area water utility said Tuesday that it will deny flooding claims stemming from a damaging storm last summer based on an independent review that found the flooding was caused by the amount of rainfall and not a defect in its wastewater collection and pumping system.

The Great Lakes Water Authority said in a statement that Michigan law also holds that a public entity can only be held liable for a sewage disposal system event if a defect in the system caused at least half of the problem and damage.

A state of emergency was declared for Detroit and surrounding Wayne County following a storm that began on June 25, 2021, and dumped more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain, which overloaded the area’s wastewater systems. Some streets and hundreds of basements were flooded, causing widespread property damage.

Sue McCormick, who ran the Great Lakes Water Authority at the time, said days after the storm that two Detroit water pumping stations designed to carry wastewater and excess storm water to treatment facilities experienced power-related problems but didn’t fail during the storm.

Due to an electrical service issue, only three of six pumps at one station could be brought online, while a power outage at a second station slowed efforts to turn three of its pumps on as the rain poured, she said.

Eventually, five of the six pumps at the Connor Creek station were able to operate. Both Connor Creek and the nearby Freud stations serve Detroit’s east side and several suburban communities.

The independent investigation ordered by the water authority’s board was completed by engineering firm AECOM. It “determined that widespread basement flooding was inevitable due to the unprecedented amount and intensity of the rainfall that occurred,” the authority said.

“Even if every piece of piping and equipment in the regional system worked in an ideal manner … basement backups and surface flooding would still have occurred in GLWA’s system, or any other collection system designed to today’s standard,” it added.

The authority said it would notify people by mail that it was denying their claims.

“We understand the difficult situations homeowners and businesses face when flooding occurs,” said Suzanne R. Coffey, the authority’s current CEO. “We are experiencing increased frequency and intensity of storms hitting our region. This is why it’s critical to focus on building resiliency in the regional system.”

The Detroit-based authority is comprised of 88 member communities and provides drinking water to nearly 40% of the people living in Michigan. It also provides wastewater services to nearly 30% of state residents.

For the vast majority of affected homeowners, their insurance policies won’t cover the costs of the flood damage, according to Paul Doherty, managing attorney for Ven Johnson Law, which represents about 600 people who sustained flood damage and which filed a class-action lawsuit over the claims.

“Most people don’t have coverage and most people have to shoulder their loss,” Doherty said. “Estimates say it caused over $100 million in property damage. I think that’s (estimate) low. People have put in brand new drywall, brand new furnaces.”

Doherty called Tuesday’s announcement by the water authority “grandstanding.”

“I never held out hope they were going to voluntarily do anything,” he said. “They only will be forced by what a judge or jury tells them. Great Lakes takes the position this was a hundred-year storm, although we have them every five years.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

1 day ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

2 days ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

2 days ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

3 days ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

5 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Detroit-area utility denies flooding claims from 2021 storm