Since we're expecting heavy rain, what are the chances Charlotte's streets will flood? Pretty high, especially since a good many storm drains on our streets have been clogged with debris since the last heavy rain – or even longer.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
The photo above is a drain on a city-maintained street near where I live. It has been clogged with debris for weeks (maybe months, I only noticed it after the recent flooding). Its inability to drain is one reason a nearby low spot on Wendover Road collects water during heavy rains, often putting a lane on Wendover under water. And the drains along Wendover itself are, if anything, even more clogged.
I asked Charlotte DOT director Danny Pleasant recently about the clogged drains. He said his department clears them and to report clogged drains on the city's 311 phone line. (I confess I haven't called 311 about the drain in the photo; I wanted to see if it would get cleaned anyhow. It hasn't.) Update: I got a call about 4 p.m. from the city's solid waste services department. It cleans the tops of drains, and CDOT cleans the underneath and the catch basins. I suspect the drain in the photo above will be cleaned by tomorrow morning. We'll see.
But Wendover, Pleasant said, is state-"maintained" (quote marks mine). I wonder how many years it has been since the state has cleaned Wendover or its drains.
Note this photo of dirt in the Wendover gutters. The dirt is so deep the weeds are, in some spots, knee high. The state's road maintenance efforts are, well, the best word is slovenly. Is it this bad in other N.C. cities? Readers in Asheville, Greensboro, Raleigh, etc., are state-maintained roads in your city similarly clogged with years of dirt and debris?
I will note, however, that homeowners who aren't keen on flooded streets could always clean the storm drains in front of their houses and dig the dirt from the gutters.
Where does the dirt come from? Some of it's yard-care debris that's blown into the street (How about telling your landscapers to stop that?) and some is from construction sites, where contractors break the erosion laws and let soil run off into streets and creeks – the largest cause of water pollution. The gutter near the storm drain in the photo above is 3 inches deep in sandy sedimentation from two construction sites up the hill.