What Burlington Public Works is Doing to Prevent Flooding

Consider us in prep mode.

Consider us in prep mode.

After days of spotty, here and there storms - some of us have widespread rain on the way – and parts of Burlington are notorious for flooding. I went out with a Public Works crew to see what's being done to prevent future damage.

After talking with the city's top officials, a grand plan to re-do the whole system isn't possible, it's too expensive, and even though they are trying, patching the problem doesn't seem to be doing the trick either.

It seems like we're having a "ten year" storm a few times a week! Burlington's storm water system is being overwhelmed. 

"A lot of work has been done to address these problems and it's still not working," Joan Shannon said, who is the President of the Burlington City Council.

Everyone agrees, something must be done to prevent the damaging flooding...

"It was not put in place in a day, and it's not going to be replaced in a day," Shannon said.

And replacing the entire system doesn't sound possible. "I don't think we'll ever see it 100% fixed, unfortunately," Rob Green said, who is the Assistant Director for the Burlington Public Works Department.

So for now, we'll prioritize. Public Works was prepping for another rainy day - College Street is old, there are no gutters - and the city's age is part of the problem.With the amount of rain we've already had, it's caused so much erosion that huge pieces of the one hundred year old curb are breaking off. So crews are filling in the corroded street, hoping it will give the water only one way to go.

"Hopefully the catch basins will catch it; they're not going to catch it all, because there's just been too much water,' Green said.

We can help crews by keeping trash off the streets, and storm drains clear, but in the end, the pipes can only hold so much water.

"The amount of rain is the number one cause, but debris is the second," Green said.

Crews also worked to empty a filled up tank on Prospect that's designed to slowly release storm water - it's being pumped, just to likely overflow again - so while we can continue to patch and troubleshoot - "we definitely gotta look at the big picture," Green said.

Burlington Public Works is planning to have crews come in and wait tonight, just so that any drainage problems can be fixed right away.


Just a couple of weeks ago, basements flooded all across Burlington - tonight, there are concerns it could happen again.

One of the  heavy downpours backed up the system on Dale Road and caused Cathy Anderson's basement to not only flood, but fill with sewage.

Neighbors in the area say they're thinking about sandbagging, putting stuff in the basement on risers and investing in a sump pump in preparation for Friday's rainy forecast.

Anderson has already put five thousand dollars - out of pocket -  into the clean-up!

"My insurance company will only cover so much, and they even say that it's really the city's responsibility because there shouldn't' be sewage, so I'm getting a little bit of a problem - I mean my basement was destroyed," Anderson said.

Although she's prepared, Anderson joked that there's not much left to be destroyed and that there's not much she can do because the sewage came up through her basement's toilet and shower.

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