Water is a basic human right - we need to ensure that our citizens have affordable access to clean water.  We deserve to have our sewers working properly and not have to worry about flooding every time there is a rainstorm.  The problems with our sewers and water delivery are the result of decades of neglect and will not be solved simply or quickly. I’ve outlined some ideas in this flyer

Additional Ideas:

  • Expand Detroit Sewage and Water Departments Capital Partnership Program to support programs like Rain Gardens to the Rescue to provide support to residents to install green stormwater infrastructure, i.e. rain gardens, rain barrels, etc.

  • I would like to see some city funding to provide grants or low interest loans to residents so that they can repair/replace pipes/lines as needed.

  • Start an education campaign for residents on how to properly maintain water and sewer systems. Investigate funding sources for residents to have their lines scoped and fixed.

The Solution to Our Aging Infrastructure Must be Multi-faceted


Yes, it is true, when the City’s sewer system is overwhelmed, causing a backup of water/sewage, a backflow valve installed in your home’s drainage system may keep that water from coming into your basement through your basement floor drains.  

However, often water incursion during heavy rains happens through your unwaterproofed basement walls.  During a heavy rain, unless your home is waterproofed all around the foundation (most of our older homes are not), water can seep in through the walls.  This is a very common way that basements flood. A backflow valve does nothing to help in this situation and can actually make it worse.  For example, if a backflow valve has been activated, the water coming in through the walls actually cannot exit through the basement drains and has nowhere to go, potentially causing additional backups and flooding.


And let’s say you have a backflow valve and a waterproofed basement - that water you’ve kept out of your house has to go somewhere. It travels back up the line and goes to whichever neighbor’s house isn’t so well-protected.  What if everyone on your block has a backflow valve and waterproofed basement?  That’s a lot of water that still has to go somewhere.  So it flows until it finds a place to go.  Maybe it is the basement of your neighbor two blocks down, or maybe it floods a backyard as the water overburdens an old clay pipe.  


Waterproofing and backflow valve installation for approximately 200,000 Detroit homes comes with a hefty price tag and still doesn’t solve the problem.  


We have to look at the bigger picture so that we solve this problem at the community level, not just the individual home or block level.


This is why I’ve proposed a multi-pronged approach with both short-term and long-term fixes.



  • Require DWSD to clear the sewer lines to ensure they are functioning properly

  • Scope sewer lines and repair or add liners as needed. If a previously installed liner has caused an offset, correct the issue at no cost to the homeowner.


  • Provide funding or low-cost loans for people to waterproof their basements and install backflow valves when appropriate

  • Require GLWA to increase the capacity of the overall system by installing waste reservoirs that can retain overflow

  • Provide $50M funding to GLWA to fix the issues at the pumping stations 

  • Turn large vacant lots of mostly grass into sustainable rain gardens

  • Expand Detroit Sewage & Water Department’s Capital Partnership Program to provide support for residents to install green stormwater infrastructure (rain gardens, rain barrels).

  • Look for ways to provide grants or low interest loans to residents so that they can repair/replace pipes/lines and waterproof basements as needed.

  • Create an education campaign to teach residents how to properly maintain water and sewer systems. (For example, plumbers recommend cleaning out lines every 5-7 years)




Rain gardens are effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff. Compared to a conventional lawn, rain gardens allow for 30% more water to soak into the ground.


For a self-installed rain garden, expect to pay between $3 and $5 per square foot in plant costs and soil amendments (peat moss, for example, should be mixed into soil with high levels of clay). When working with a landscaping company to design and install your rain garden, the cost will significantly increase to around $10 to $15 per square foot.


Benefits of rain gardens


  • Improves water quality by filtering out pollutants

  • Aesthetically pleasing

  • Preserves native vegetation

  • Provides localized stormwater and flood control

  • Attracts beneficial birds, butterflies and insects

  • Easy to maintain after establishment