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    How COVID Could Flood Cities

    by Anna Espenhahn, Marketing Coordinator

    2020 has left businesses unprepared. As COVID-19 made its way across the globe, companies took significant losses from production line disruptions, store closings, and stay-at-home orders. Now that states and stores are beginning to re-open, costs continue to accrue. Safety requirements such as PPE, hand sanitizer, plexiglass barriers, face shields, masks, and gloves continue to add up. Eager to cut costs in every way possible, your business might question why stormwater management is essential. You do not see the effects, which might make it a tempting subject for the cutting block. However, this decision could be costly to your overall budget in the long-run and the environment.

    Imagine the following scenario if you did cut the stormwater management budget.

    At first, everything would seem the status quo. There would be no overnight floods or sudden pipe disasters. However, as time progresses, things would begin to unravel. It would start with improper drainage. Catch basins become blocked by debris, a regular occurrence that is easily fixed with proper maintenance. However, you have cut the budget, and your maintenance provider has not been around to clean the basins. Blockage to catch basins will cause water to pool in parking lots, but you think that is not a big issue and choose to ignore it. Until one day, it storms. For the first time in a while, it pours. While there have been drizzles here and there that your unkept system was able to handle, they did not compare to this. You hear thunder roll in the distance as you watch the droplets cascade from the sky. An emergency notification appears on your phone. It is a flash flood warning. The parking lot does not have small puddles of water anymore, and it is one giant pool. The basins try but cannot let any water pass as they are coated with leaves, dirt, and trash that have created a perfect seal. The rain does not stop. It rushes out of the parking lot, and with nowhere left to go, it forces its way into your property building. Not even an inch of water makes it into your building, but thousands of dollars’ worth of damages have already occurred. Damages to the property are the cost of improper stormwater system management.

    Catch basin blockage is just one of many easily preventable system failures that could result in flooding. Almost every portion of the stormwater system must be regularly maintained to promote proper function, including catch basins, pipes, inlets, outlets, and many other structures depending on your system. If even one of these structures is not maintained correctly, an event like this could occur.

    Still, feeling confident that your stormwater system can take the hit? Maybe your area is not prone to flash floods. Let us play the scenario again.

    At first, everything would seem to function normally. You notice the grass around the retention pond is getting quite long, but your local government does not regulate vegetation length, so it is no issue to you. Then the tree line begins to move in. The process is slow enough. You do not even notice as trees grow larger and larger dangerously close to the outlet. While maintenance crews would have been able to quickly identify the risk and thwart it, you do not notice anything wrong. The roots of the vegetation find their way to the piping and grow along beside it. The pipe is slowly chipped and cracked by roots expanding as the plants grow, until one day it is too much—the pipe splits. Unable to drain properly with part of the pipe missing and rubble blocking what is left, water becomes backlogged. You are at risk of flooding due to improper drainage, but now you have thousands of dollars worth of repairs to implement.

    As your site’s stormwater system can degrade in the rainy season and in the dry season, these scenarios could quickly become a reality. In addition to property loss and repairs, a Notice of Violation is likely to happen in both cases. NOVs will add an additional fine on top of any repair costs system neglect has caused. While it may be tempting to cut stormwater management from the budget, remember that maintenance will save you thousands of dollars in repair fees in the future. Learn more here, on how AQUALIS can assist in creating a stormwater management plan that is cost-effective, mitigates flooding, and overall protects your stormwater investments. It is only a matter of time before stormwater solutions on your property require large repairs or a costly NOV, don't be caught off guard with these unplanned expenses and partner with a stormwater management provider today.