City of Detroit spending $2M to install temporary dam to reduce the impact from river flooding and protect the Conner Creek wet weather treatment facility

Image of temporary dam

The City of Detroit is expected to begin installing temporary dams, the week of March 30, along the Detroit River and canal seawalls, in the lower eastside overcome by rising water levels last year to help prevent a repeat this year. Recently, the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners approved the $2 million expense as a preventative measure to protect the city’s combined sewer system from being overwhelmed and preventing pump failure during wet weather events. Last year, nearly 7 billion gallons of river and storm water flowed to the treatment facility at Connor Creek and the pumps are not designed to work for 24 hours on multiple days.

This Tiger Dam™ System consists of elongated flexible tubes which can be quickly stacked, joined end to end and filled with water. The pyramid shaped structure forms a barrier to protect buildings, resort properties and any other structures prior to the onset of a flood. The tubes can be filled with a 2-inch pump, a fire hydrant (fastest) or a garden hose. The tubes are capable of being stacked up to a maximum of 32 feet high and linked together seamlessly for miles. They can be virtually any length and take any shape. Each tube weighs 65 lbs dry and 6300 lbs when filled with water.

These temporary engineered, interlocking, flexible tubes are then drained of water which flows back into the river when the flooding subsides. The result is a reusable system that protects property without the need of sandbags. When the floodwaters recede, the tubes can be drained within minutes, rolled up and reused again and again.

Last week, residents were notified of the coming installation of the dam and directed to remove any obstacles to accessing the property or the seawall area from that portion of their property.  If residents do not comply, the city will remove the obstacles and, if necessary, bill the property owner for the cost.

The city is acting now, to get in front of the rising waters, which are expected to exceed last year's record setting levels across the Great Lakes.

The city has a combined sewer system, where the untreated sewage from homes and businesses and storm water flow into the same pipe and head to the Water Resource Recovery Facility in southwest Detroit to be treated before discharge into our rivers. During rain events, nine wet weather treatment facilities will handle the overflows for Detroit and part of the region, with pre-treatment and storage to reduce the amount of untreated sewage going into our rivers.

"Last year we had to react to the canal waters flooding streets and property. This year we are being very proactive to make sure we have protection in place long before the river crests," said Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Gary Brown. "The  Conner Creek wet weather treatment facility serves a large portion of Detroit and several eastside suburban communities. If it were to fail, we potentially would have another public health crisis because the combined sewage would have nowhere else to go but back up into residents' basements.

City of Detroit crews along with the US Army Corp of Engineers and subcontractors will be completing the installation. The dam is expected to be completed by May 1.


Media Contact
Nicole Simmons – BSEED
(404) 447-6177
[email protected]

Bryan Peckinpaugh – DWSD
(313) 410-2954
[email protected]