Flood Response & Sewer Improvements

Flooding of the Tittabawassee River at the Tridge

UPDATE: Review the Draft Concept 5 Sewer Improvement Project Plan Now!

A graphic of a sewer cover with running water that includes a link to review the sewer plan

Following the approval of Concept 5 sewer improvements by the Midland City Council in March 2021, City Wastewaster staff has recommended that draft plans for work be submitted to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to seek project plan approval and open the door for possible low-interest loans to fund the improvements through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Strategic Water Quality Initiatives Fund. At the May 24, 2021 City Council meeting, the Midland City Council will hold a public hearing to review and approve the proposed project plan being submitted to EGLE. This hearing will only approve the project plan and will not approve the execution of the project or funding.

Ahead of this public hearing, the public is encouraged to review the draft plan being submitted. Public comment can be provided in the following ways: 1) At the public hearing on May 24, 2021 at 7 p.m. via Zoom; 2) By email to cityhall@midland-mi.org by 4 p.m. on Monday, May 24; or 3) through the topic posted on E-CityHall you can find here or by clicking the graphic above.

Attendance for the public hearing on May 24 is as follows:

  • Online: https://zoom.us/join
    • Webinar ID: 853 3624 9926
    • Password: 089757.
  • Telephone: (312) 626-6799 
    • Webinar ID: 853 3624 9926
    • Password: 089757

The purpose of the proposed project is to improve the sanitary sewer collection system by increasing the sizes of certain sewers, adding off-line sanitary sewage storage, repair structurally defective sewer pipes, and disconnect footing drains from the sanitary sewer system in certain areas. This project will allow for the system to convey flows during a design rain event, which is a 25-year, 24-hour event, ultimately reducing the risk of surcharging sewers and basement backups.

The estimated monthly increase for the proposed project to users having the most common meter sizes is approximately $8.06 per ¾-inch meter, and $10.48 per 1-inch meter.  Larger meters will incur additional costs.  These funds will be used solely for the payback of debt secured to fund the project.

Please note: The draft Concept 5 sewer plan is a large PDF file and may take time to download on slower connection speeds. A physical copy is available on file at the Midland City Clerk's Office for review.

Background of the 2017 Storm & Sanitary Sewer Study

During the flooding event on June 22-23, 2017 - which saw the second-highest recorded crest of the Tittabawassee River - thousands of residents within the City of Midland were impacted by surface flooding, flash flooding, and basement sewer back-ups. Although both the sanitary and storm sewer systems performed as designed during this event, they were inundated with water. Residents asked: Could this be prevented or mitigated in the future? The City decided to seek outside help to answer that question.

On October 16, 2017, Midland City Council approved a study of the City’s sanitary and storm sewer system to be conducted by a joint venture of engineering firms Hubbell, Roth & Clark (HRC) and OHM Advisors. HRC tackled the sanitary sewer study, while OHM conducted research on the City’s storm sewer infrastructure.

Final drafts of the 2017 Midland Sanitary & Storm Sewer Study were made available to the public on June 11, 2018, with the finalized report presented to City Council on Monday, September 10, 2018. You can access both documents and the executive summary, as well as supplementary materials below.

 Click to read Volume I: Executive Summary

 Click to read Volume II: Storm Sewer Study    

 Click to read Volume III: Sanitary Sewer Study    

In October 2018, City staff presented a series of recommendations for action based upon the consultants’ study findings, community feedback from the public input sessions, and additional field research and monitoring throughout the city.

Watch the video below (beginning at the 1:48:00 mark) to view the full presentation of these updates. A copy of the presentation is also available by clicking the button below the video.

 Click to view the full recommendations presentation (PDF)    

Frequently Asked Questions

Following the June 2017 event, residents had questions about the state of our storm and sanitary sewer systems, the causes of flooding in Midland, and other topics. We’ve assembled a list of the most frequently asked questions below.

Ongoing Flood & Sewer Study Response 

Since the sewer study was completed in 2018, City staff and contractors have made progress on the consultants' many recommendations. All recommendations will take years to implement, but you can find a list below of items completed to date. (You can find a year-by-year breakdown of activities in the next section.)

What's Actually Been Done?

  • Asset characterization program (video and sonar mapping from RedZone Robotics) has been completed in all Priority 1 areas. Seventy-five (75) percent of the data has been coded, with all data expected to be completed by March 2021.This applies to both the storm and sanitary sewer systems.
  • Ongoing yearly culvert inspections and open ditch cleaning in areas with City jurisdiction.
  • Installation of rainfall and river gauges throughout the Tittabawassee River watershed to assist in data collection, particularly given the absence of upstream dam system after May 2020 flooding event.
  • Aerial drone surveys with assistance from Midland County Drain Commissioner to identify and perform open ditch clearing in blocked areas
  • Land property surveys along Sturgeon Creek from Wackerly Street to Saginaw Road to determine property rights and jurisdictions for public vs. private and City vs. County vs. State responsibility for maintenance
  • Installation of flow meters in all Priority 1 areas have been completed to monitor flow data in the sanitary sewer system and will be used to update the model for predicting system performance. Flow monitoring will begin in Priority 2 areas this year, but will need time to gather significant amounts of data.
  • Sanitary sewer pipe lining and manhole rehabilitation/replacement projects in needed areas anticipated to begin in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
  • Priority items have also been implemented into the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2020-2026 to document and collaborate sewer system projects with other capital improvements, such as street reconstruction and water main replacements, to make these improvements as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible.
    Click here to read the 2020-2026 Capital Improvement Plan.

Current Challenges Faced:

  • Homes located within or adjacent to the 100-year floodplain will see some level of flooding and water issues regardless of any proactive measures taken as they are within a floodplain
  • The absence of a dam system north of Midland has led the Tittabawassee River to behave in new ways during wet weather events, making its impact on our sewer systems and flooding concerns more difficult to predict
  • Insufficient budget and staffing levels to properly and efficiently maintain all open ditch clearing requests received by Wastewater staff
  • Sturgeon Creek is a Water of the State under State of Michigan jurisdiction, preventing the City or County from performing any activities on the waterway unless on property it owns or controls. The City must apply and pay for a permit ($500+) each time it performs maintenance on its properties.
  • The City has very little jurisdiction over much of the Tittabawassee River system, including the upstream dam system.
  • Budgeting for additional sewer improvements is insufficient to pursue staff-recommended options. (Current budget is $750,000) Additional funding sources must be found before projects can be initiated.
  • If Council desires a higher level of service from the sanitary sewer system beyond 25-year, 24-hour levels in Priority 1 areas, additional expenditures and studies would be necessary to determine what would be needed. EGLE currently requires the elimination of I&I from a system before permitting increases in level of service.
  • Current Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) does not include the proposed sanitary and storm sewer recommendations, but the plan is largely ready for presentation. Adding these projects to the CIP would drastically change the document.

This section last updated March 23, 2021.

For a full timeline of activities related to the Storm & Sanitary Sewer Study, please use the tabs in the container below to navigate by year. The most recent updates will appear in the '2021' tab. Each tab lists activities in chronological order.

Flood Response Updates: Year-by-Year Activities

  1. 2021
  2. 2020
  3. 2019
  4. 2018


February 2021 - Council Holds Special Meeting to Discuss Sanitary Sewer Improvements

The Midland City Council held a special meeting on February 10, 2021 to discuss the 2021-26 Capital Improvement Plan and review proposed improvement to the City's sanitary sewer system as discussed at the December 21, 2020 City Council meeting,. Watch this meeting to see the proposed improvements outlined in specific detail and to hear Council discussion on these topics.

March 8, 2021 - Council Approves $30 Million in Improvements via Study Concept 5

On Monday, March 8, City Council accepted the recommendation of City Wastewater staff to pursue Concept 5, which was presented at the December 21, 2020 meeting, for sanitary sewer improvements. "Concept 5" includes a pilot footing drain disconnection (FDD) program in the Whitewood and Moorland pumping districts, along with infiltration and inflow prevention via pipe lining and pipe rehabilitation or replacement and manhole rehabilitation or replacement. This is anticipated to return the sanitary sewer system to a 25-year, 24-hour level of service for rain events in the Priority 1 areas, has the lowest legacy costs, and is the easiest to implement for the City in the long term. (A graphic breaking down these costs is shown below.)Overall funding of $30.5 million for funding of the sanitary sewer improvements

In addition to this acceptance, an amendment was made that directed staff to up-size the offline storage proposal for the Sylvan pumping station from 150,000 gallons to 1,000,000 gallons and to isolate the overflow from the Sylvan pumping district into the Valley pumping district, which will increase the safety factor during flooding events.  

This action sets the direction for improvements moving forward to allow for staff and consultants to finalize the design of the system improvements. Funding source(s) and an implementation schedule still need to be determined before these improvements can begin.

The Footing Drain Disconnect pilot program remains to be designed and accepted, as does the extent of the implementation of sewer lining and manhole rehabilitation outside of the Priority 1 areas identified by RedZone Robotics.

To view the presentation of this information and watch Council action, please reference the video above. Discussion begins at the 33:00 mark. Click the link below to see supporting documentation for this agenda item.

March 22, 2021 - Council Approves Additional $15 Million in Inflow & Infiltration Removal Work

Following approval of Concept 5 on Monday, March 8 and the discussion of Council's desire to pursue additional improvements for the sanitary and storm sewer systems, Wastewater staff went back to work and compiled information related to the reduction of additional inflow and infiltration (I&I) across the entire city. At its meeting on Monday, March 22, 2021, staff presented this information and offered a resolution to add this work - a total of $18.2 million in improvements, of which $3.2 million is currently budgeted under Concept 5 - to the scope of work for upcoming sewer projects. Following a presentation by City staff, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution that would add another $15 million in I&I removal projects to the existing $30 million project improvements approved at the March 8, 2021 meeting.

To view the presentation of this information and watch Council action, please reference the video above. Discussion begins at the 1:07:00 mark.  

Overview map of existing I&I issue areas in the City

A map outlining all areas where inflow and infiltration has been found in the sewer systems

As with other areas of the approved scope of work, starting these improvements are dependent upon the identification of a funding source and the development of a firm timeline for all work approved by Council.

Click the links below to see supporting documentation for this agenda item.

Watch: Sewer Study Video Library 

If you prefer to watch your information instead of read it, you're in luck! Check out the sewer study video library below for video updates from City Council meetings, an explanation of sanitary vs. storm sewer systems, tips to keep your basement dry, and more. Videos appear from earliest to most recent beginning in July 2017.

Use the arrows on each side of the video player to scroll through the library.