LACOMBE — City council was urged on Monday to do something to fix ongoing flooding problems that have affected hundreds of homeowners and left some people coping with basements full of raw sewage.
Laverne Jones said people have been left devastated and had to contend with thousands of dollars in repair bills and expensive retrofitting because the city’s drainage system has been repeatedly overwhelmed during major rainstorms. Some homeowners who found their basements filled with water after a July 11 storm faced the same problem only 15 days later when another deluge hit.
Jones, who was speaking on behalf of a homeowners’ group formed to press the city to fix the drainage system, said the problem is getting worse.
“It’s a huge area of town that is getting affected,” said Jones, who had gathered nearly 300 names on a petition urging action from the city and believes as many as 500 homes are at risk. “This problem is not going to go away.”
After getting flooded last year, Jones spent $4,000 on an additional sump pump and a valve to prevent water and sewage backing up, but her basement flooded again last month. Many others have shared her experience.
“There’s a lot of angry people out there — a lot of angry people,” she said in a presentation to council. Some people fell ill from the raw sewage that was flowing into the city, she said.
Residents want to know what the city’s short-term and long-term plans are for dealing with the issue. Jones also said the city should provide grants to help residents pay for expensive sump pumps and other necessary improvements to stop water from getting into their homes.
City chief administrative officer Norma MacQuarrie said the city understands the hardship residents are facing and work is underway to find solutions to the ongoing problems.
Stantec, an engineering consulting firm, will be undertaking a study that will take a close look at the entire drainage and sewer system and make recommendations to fix problems. MacQuarrie said it’s critical that the system be looked at as a whole rather than trying to make piecemeal improvements that could improve one area but lead to other issues somewhere else in the city.
The $89,600 study was approved by council on Monday and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Council will then review recommendations and fit them into its capital budget.
Council also approved $192,500 to repair storm water outfalls at three locations in the city. A claim for disaster recovery funding has already been filed for the July 11 storm and it is hoped that will money will cover most of the emergency repairs. A second application will also be submitted for the July 26 storm.
If the province approves funding, residents affected by flooding will be notified and given help submitting claims.
Councillor Peter Bouwsema said the city will take action to address flooding.
“We’re going to come to some sort of resolution,” he said. “There’s no question, we have to do that.”