Basement Backup and Flood Protection

While the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) are doing the big stuff to address the aging infrastructure and become more climate resilient, residents can do the small stuff to help protect your homes and property.

Did you know that basements are inherently prone to flooding if not protected? First, they are under the ground where water seeps. Second, if the foundation and drain tiles are not maintained, they can lead to basement flooding. Third, sewer lateral service lines that carry sewage from the home can also fail and backup into the house.

Learn more in the City of Detroit Basement Backup & Flood Protection Handbook. You can request a copy be mailed to you by sending your name and mailing address to [email protected]. You can also view other tips online here.

 

City of Detroit Residential Basement Backup Protection Program


What is the City of Detroit Basement Backup Protection Program?
Homeowners in 11 Detroit neighborhoods are eligible for this program. These neighborhoods have experienced a significant number of basement backups over the last decade during rain events.

With increasingly frequent and severe weather events, it is important for residents to take measures to protect your property. There are small steps you can take to reduce basement backups and flooding as outlined in the City of Detroit Basement Backup & Flooding Handbook.

Local, county and state government agencies are assessing implementation of climate resiliency plans.

Property owners should disconnect downspouts from the sewer system, and where necessary install a backwater valve and/or sump pump to help reduce the potential for basement backups at houses, especially for areas that experience a history of basement backups.

The City of Detroit is offering residential homeowners (owner/occupied and landlords of occupied residential houses and duplexes) who have property within one of the 11 identified neighborhoods, a Basement Backup Protection Program. This is not offered to multi-unit dwellings including condos and apartments, commercial property or nonprofits. The neighborhoods are based on clusters of historic basement backups and flooding reported to the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD).

Phase 1 of the Basement Backup Protection Program was offered to homeowners in the Victoria Park and Aviation Sub neighborhoods, which were the hardest-hit areas during the June 25-26, 2021 rain event and have a history of basement backups during rainstorms in the past decade. Victoria Park is the lowest geographic point in the city and in a flood plane. Aviation Sub has a long history of backups and basement flooding. 

  • 382 backwater valves were installed in Phase 1.
  • Phase 1 was completed as of September 2023.
  • Phase 2, for the remaining neighborhoods, started in January 2024.

View the map below for the 11 eligible neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are based on a significant number of basement backup reports over the last decade, as well as funding availability.

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The Detroit Basement Backup Protection Program is funded by the Detroit Future Fund, possible only due to funds approved by U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden for the American Rescue Plan Act. The Fund pays for the cost of the program. No water and sewer rate dollars are used. There is no cost to the homeowner.

Once the work for the property under this program is approved by DWSD, the homeowner will schedule the appointment directly with the assigned plumber.

Please refer to the City of Detroit Basement Backup & Flooding Handbook for information on backwater valves and the other measures to reduce backups and flooding.

Basement Backup Protection Program at a Glance:

Eligible work is subject to available funding, provided on a first-come, first-served basis and must meet the requirements listed in the application and the property must be in one of the target neighborhoods. DWSD will manage the program.

  • The assigned contractor will provide the following services, which is based on a home inspection and DWSD approval:
  1. Inspect sewer lateral service line with CCTV (camera)
  2. Repair or replace sewer lateral service line if there is a defect identified by the contractor
  3. Disconnect downspouts and install extensions at least three feet from foundation
  4. Install backwater valve inside of outside based on homeowner preference and private plumbing set up
  5. Install sump pump on properties where diversion is possible
  6. Install backwater valve and sump pump with sump pump overflow
What this program does not cover:
  • No replacement or repair of private plumbing, aside from repair or replacement of the sewer lateral service line as needed.
  • No repairs to basement foundation or floor, such as pre-existing cracks, gaps and failing seals.
  • No reimbursement for additional or alternative power for sump pumps.
  • No reimbursement for existing backwater valve and/or sump pump.
  • No replacement of an existing backwater valve or sump pump.
  • No addition of a second sump pump and/or backwater valve.
  • No plumbing repairs on the private property including inside the house and the water service line.
  • No homeowners in neighborhoods outside of the target areas will be eligible due both to funding capacity and based on historic basement backup data.
  • If you have a finished basement with flooring other than cement, this program will only cover repatching the cement floor – the City will not subsidize the cost for restoring any tile, wood, carpeting, other materials, and/or fixtures.
Requirements
  • This program is only for residential, non-commercial property (occupied houses and duplex homes).
  • Funding must be available at time of application – check this page to see if there is a notice that funding has been committed (exhausted). 
  • For Phase 1 eligibility, the homeowner must have an occupied house or duplex in Victoria Park or Aviation Sub neighborhoods.
  • For Phase 2 eligibility, the homeowner must have an occupied house or duplex in one of the 9 targeted neighborhoods as defined in the map shown above.
  • The homeowner will review and sign a waiver once initial approval of your application has been granted.
  • DWSD will schedule an appointment for a pre-inspection, and must pass the inspection to be eligible to participate – this occurs once program contractors are assigned to your neighborhood.
  • After the inspection is approved, a licensed plumber, assigned by DWSD, will visit the property to inspect the private sewer lateral that services your home. At this time, the plumbing contractor will review a list of eligible flood mitigation upgrades through the Basement Backup Protection Program. 
  • Based on the initial inspection and the plumber's assessment and estimate, DWSD will deny or approve the work to be performed under this program.
  • The City of Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering & Environmental Department (BSEED) will issue a permit and inspect the final work.
  • All eligible basement flooding protection work must be performed by a contractor/licensed plumber contracted and scheduled by DWSD.
  • If the downspouts are disconnected, they must safely be routed onto grass or a flower bed, and not on cement or towards a neighboring house, which can be done under this program.
  • Any work performed by the homeowner themselves does not qualify for this program funding.
  • Disputes with respect to qualifying work will be resolved by the representative from DWSD.
  • The contractor will use material/fittings that are approved by the Detroit Building Code, including the backwater valve and sump pump specifically approved for this program.
  • DWSD will pay the authorized contractor upon completion of the work, including proper inspections.
  • If water bill arrears exists, account holder must agree to enroll into a payment plan or water affordability program if the income-qualify.
How do I Receive Approval?

Homeowner verifies their occupied residential house or duplex is in the defined area based on the map on this page, then apply online (applications are closed until the first round of applicants are serviced and funding remains available). Tenants cannot apply. Once DWSD has provided pre-approval, the homeowner takes the following steps:

  1. Homeowner must sign a legal waiver.
  2. Homeowner must allow the DWSD inspector to perform an inspection inside and outside the home.
  3. Plumber will share the estimate with DWSD for approval.
  4. DWSD will pay the plumber directly for the cost of the approved flood mitigation measures.
  5. Final inspection is required before the payment is approved and is provided directly to the plumber.

Application

Phase 1 has been completed. If you are in a target neighborhood and already applied, we will reach out to you soon. Until Phase 2 is complete, no applications will be accepted at this time. If you have any questions, email us.