Public Works’ focus on Norwalk’s flooding areas pays off
NORWALK — In the less than three months Anthony Carr has been on the job as the city’s chief of public works and operations, one main issue has taken center stage — flooding.
Over the past month, the Department of Public Works has taken a “multi-pronged” approach to dealing with some of the flood-related issues including dredging overgrown ponds, going out to bid for a city-wide flooding study and planning for a public listening session to gather more input from city homeowners.
“Since our last Public Works committee meeting, there’s been a big initiative to hire a consultant to look at various locations throughout the city that experience flooding no matter how small or big, all neighborhoods and areas treated fairly,” Carr said Tuesday evening.
At the last meeting, at least seven members of the public raised concerns about flooding in their neighborhoods.
Carr and Lisa Burns, the city’s principal engineer, said the staff got together and figured out what short fixes they could do while going out to bid to find a consultant to perform a study that looked at the city’s flooding issues as a whole.
One of the areas highlighted was near County Street, which was affected by lack of drainage in and around Andrews Field, Burns said.
“County Street was flagged as issue by some folks who attended the meeting,” she said. “It hadn’t been identified as an issue through our customer service database or anything like that when we had the three big storm events so pretty much the Public Works team kicked into gear.”
Over the past month, the team cleared more than 23,580 feet of pipe and removed over 130 tons of material from the large pipes in the area to improve drainage in the area, Burns reported.
Carr said it had an immediate effect for the main three to four properties that were impacted.
“The water level was reduced anywhere from one to two feet vertical elevation and then the water line receded approximately 30 to 40 feet from the edges of the properties it was previously affecting,” he said. “The water moved inward and the water level went down which is exactly what you’d expect.”
Carr said that residents telling them about these issues really helped them target their work, which is why they’ve decided to host a public listening session in the community room at City Hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 28.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to come in in affected neighborhoods, or not affected neighborhoods, and just voice their opinions — how they feel about flooding, how they’ve personally been impacted,” he said.
That information will be passed along to the consultant who will be approved at the committee’s June 4 meeting to conduct a study across the city on areas impacted by flooding and what can be done to address their issues.
The public session could also help provide the public works staff with guidance as to some maintenance activities that could be done in the meantime, Carr and Burns said.
“A lot of these issues can be remedied with basic maintenance,” Carr said. “If you clean inlets and outlets and you dredge channels, I mean you really do see a quick and immediate benefit.”
Carr said that Jacob’s Engineering, a consultant hired to do five main areas of dredging, is also going before the Conservation Commission to get permits this month to help address clogged inlets and waterways, including around Friendly Pond off Friendly Road, and Lloyd Road.
The plan is for the field work to begin on the study around July, a few weeks, after the contract is awarded in June, according to Carr, which would also be when the dredging work is taking place.
Members of the committee said they appreciated the department’s work to address the flooding concerns.
“This is great news, this is what a city should do,” said Councilman Michael Corsello, an at-large Democrat.
Carr said that he hoped they had a large turnout for the May 28 event to get as much input as they can.