There have been significant improvements made to an underground system of pump stations in Detroit that’s meant to keep water off the roads, the Michigan Department of Transportation said.
The department has spent $13 million over the last two years to improve the metro area’s 140 pump stations, The Detroit News reported. The pumps move water from freeways to drainage systems or other bodies of water that are on lower ground.
The city faced flooding and freeway closures in August 2014 when 4.5 inches of rain fell during a four-hour span.
The upgrades have given workers more responsive technology that can monitor pumps remotely and have launched a system that helps keep pumps running during severe weather, said Mia Silver, a region engineer for the transportation department.
About a third of the city’s pumps have the remote monitoring software, though all pumps should have access to it by the end of the year, Silver said.
The software allows department employees to monitor water levels at pumps remotely, so they’re aware of potential issues before streets are flooded, said John Ladensack, a department supervisor.
“The response time is a lot quicker, to catch a problem before it actually floods,” he said.
The department has also added backup generators and is retrofitting stations to address the issue of electrical failure, which is the most common problem at pump stations, Silver said.
The changes have improved conditions but haven’t completely eliminated the flooding risk, Silver said.
“But I do (think recent investments are) moving us in the right direction,” she said. We’re really glad to have funding to be able to get to it.”