Detroit Water & Sewerage Department prepares for potential flooding; urges residents to follow tips to reduce impact

  • Crews, which are adhering to the Center for Disease Control and City of Detroit guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, are deployed to clean the catch basins and respond to potential flooding
  • City urges residents and businesses to check nearby catch basins to make sure there is no debris or objects on top of or near the drains to help reduce street flooding
  • DWSD also recommends Detroiters follow everyday tips including not flushing wipes
  • The Great Lakes Water Authority are staffing and monitoring pumping stations and wet weather treatment facilities throughout the rain event


The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has crews in the neighborhoods today and throughout the week cleaning catch basins (storm drains) and sewer lines to help reduce potential flooding from the forecasted heavy rain over the next two days. DWSD encourages residents and businesses to follow recommended flooding tips and to keep debris and objects away from catch basins and sewer drains, doing so safely given the COVID-19 pandemic.

DWSD’s sewer trucks and crews are already deployed cleaning catch basins in advance and responding to street flooding caused by blocked catch basins. DWSD needs the public’s assistance. Clear the catch basins in front of your house or business, and help your neighbors do the same while maintaining the social distancing. Catch basins carry stormwater off city streets and nearby properties into the city’s combined sewer system.

Since DWSD launched its catch basin inspection and cleaning program, including purchasing new equipment and hiring additional staff in 2017, crews have inspected and cleaned 27,775 storm drains. The goal is 30,000 by August 2020.


Everyday Tips from DWSD
DWSD offers the following everyday tips to reduce a potential sewer or drain backup.

  • Do not flush anything in your toilet except the three P’s: Pee, Poop and toilet Paper; flushing anything else may cause your sewer line to clog and back up into your basement.
  • Do not put anything but water into the drains – no grease, oils, fats or other debris.


Flooding Tips
DWSD offers the following wet weather tips.

  • Avoid driving through standing water.
  • Clear leaves, trash and other debris from above and around the catch basins, and make sure no objects such as garbage and recycling bins are on top of the storm drain; during the COVID-19 pandemic be sure to follow the Center for Disease Control and City of Detroit guidelines.
  • Make sure valuables are stored several feet above basement floors in case you experience a flooded basement; move valuables to an upper floor prior to and during rain events.
  • Check your basement drain(s) to make sure they are not clogged in case they are needed if water enters your basement.
  • Stay clear of standing water in your basement if the area includes electrical appliances, outlets, and a fuse box.


Basement Backups
If you experience a basement backup, be cautious, take photos and if there is damage, file the proper claim within 45 days of the incident. Basement backups can occur for many reasons including a clogged private sewer line, basement wall cracks, tiling issues, storm line cracks, or other private infrastructure, and at times due to the demand on the public sewer system. Property owners are responsible for the sewer infrastructure on their parcels, including the sewer line from the structure all the way to the connection at the city’s sewer pipe, while DWSD is responsible for the city’s sewer collection system (see image below).

The Great Lakes Water Authority is monitoring and staffing its pumping stations and wet weather treatment facilities throughout the next few days and following the rain event.
Report street flooding by using the “Improve Detroit” SeeClickFix mobile app for Apple and Android devices, through Facebook messaging at or call 313-267-8000.

DWSD Sewer Responsibility diagram


Media Contact
Bryan Peckinpaugh
[email protected]