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MSD: Unusual flash flooding not related to system changes

by WHAS11


Posted on June 1, 2012 at 6:23 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Three years after a record rainfall swamped Louisville, another round of heavy rain on Tuesday triggered flash flooding again.  With two areas not usually prone to flooding both affected in 2009 and 2012, the Metropolitan Sewer District says the flooding of the WHAS-TV basement in downtown Louisville and Brook Street at the University of Louisville is simply the result of unusual weather and not related to any changes within the MSD system.

"There haven't been any consent decree or other MSD projects that have changed anything that could have made any of this worse," said MSD's Brian Bingham.  "As we look at projects, that's one of the things we evaluate each time.  Is there any ability for this to have a negative impact? And we absolutely will not negatively impact things."

"It's really not related to the infrastructure changing," Bingham continued.  "The infrastructure basically been the same since the Fifties."

What piqued curiosity at WHAS11 is the flooding inside the television station's 45 year old building on Chestnut Street, downtown.  Station veterans say in the history of the building, this week is only the second time the basement had ever flooded, and the first time was in the historic flash flood of 2009.
Yet, heavy rain events in 1992, 1995, 2002 and 2006 did not trigger similar flooding.

Bingham told WHAS11 that the MSD projects initiated since a 2005 agreement with the EPA to prevent billions of gallons of untreated sewage from getting into waterways have only helped drainage.

Rain gardens. porous paving and infiltration pits in parking lots capture storm water and return it to the ground rather than into the sewer system.

MSD crews found no breaks or obstructions in the sewer lines around WHAS11 - and said the television station is the only downtown building to report a problem.

But, the University of Louisville is also drying out this week after one area that was underwater in 2009 was deluged again.

Some areas of the campus are low-lying and notorious as flood prone.  But, Brook Street within campus, which was flooded in 2009 and again this week, is not one of those areas.

"Did we have massive flooding on this Brook Street area repeatedly?  The answer is 'no,'" said university spokesman Mark Hebert.  

"I think the rains just came and the once in a lifetime flood that was supposed to happen in 2009 now has become a twice in a lifetime flood in 2012," Hebert said.

The estimated thousands of dollars to clean up at U of L this week is a drop in the bucket compared to the $20 million in damage in 2009.  Since then, with MSD's help, the university has invested one and a half million dollars to prepare for the next heavy rain.

"And for the most part, it worked a couple of days ago," Hebert said.  "Those buildings - several of them - that got a lot of water before didn't get water this time."

"There just are going to be storms that we can't handle," Bingham said.

"The truth of the matter is, a lot of the buildings in this community were built at an elevation that they shouldn't have been so they are low lying.  The only way to protect some of those buildings would be to remove those buildings," Bingham said.