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Parma planning, seeking funding for sewer upgrades to flood-prone areas

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Posted at 6:40 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 19:43:16-04

PARMA, Ohio — The City of Parma is seeking state funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission to help finance sorely needed sewer infrastructure improvements in different parts of the city that have been prone to basement flooding in recent years.

The city has sought state assistance via the OPWC for sewer infrastructure upgrades on Krueger Avenue and Green Acres Drive. According to city engineers, there are improper connections tying into sanitary sewer lines on private property that feed into the existing city sewer lines. The sanitary and stormwater sewer lines were installed in the 1940s and share a common trench. Despite regular maintenance, engineers said heavy rain events inundate the system, causing the backflow to flood homeowners’ basements.

Cassandra and Steven Norris have lived on Krueger Avenue near West 48th Street for nearly a decade. In that time frame, they estimate that their basement has flooded 30 to 40 times.

“Every time it rains, we have to go down into the basement and make sure nothing is flooding. We have lost thousands of dollars,” Cassandra Norris said.

A heavy downpour last year was particularly destructive, leaving their basement floor under approximately 18 inches of water — and sewage too. The flood caused thousands of dollars in damage, which required repairs to the drywall, flooring and foundation.

“She’s a nurse, I’m a tow truck driver. Our money, we’re working hard for it,” Steven Norris said. “To keep throwing it away is completely ridiculous.”

The first phase of proposed sewer upgrades to Krueger Avenue between West 54th and West 48th Streets involves cleaning the sewer system, correcting the improper connections and replacing parts of the sewer main in the area. Coming in at a cost of $1.5 million, the city hopes to secure funding for the first phase of the project from the OPWC and other sources. The city has been utilizing a $260,000 grant from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for design work needed for the project.

The second and third phases of the project, which would encompass West 48th to West 44th Streets, are also considered long-term improvements. The design process could be complete by the end of the year. Construction would begin once the project is fully funded, officials said.

“These sewers have been properly maintained, but there are issues on private property that are tributary to the sewers,” city officials said in a statement. “We are looking at enhancements beyond the original design and always considering ways to address storm-water management, which is a regional challenge.”

The Norris family has grown impatient, however. Steven and Cassandra recently purchased a home in Seven Hills. Despite “never wanting to leave” Parma, they will be listing their home on the market soon.

“[The flooding] is the biggest reason aside from the fact that we have multiple kids and we need more room,” Steven Norris said. “Realistically speaking, if the flooding wasn’t an issue, people would be determined to maybe put on an addition. We could have easily done that. But why would anyone invest another $20,000 to $30,000 in your home when you have to replace the basement floor again and have contractors come back out?”