Flood Response & Sewer Improvements

Flooding of the Tittabawassee River at the Tridge

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. All of these recommendations do not require an increase in funding for either the storm or sanitary sewer system.

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.

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.

Storm Sewer System

  • Sturgeon Creek Maintenance
    • Tree clearing by City Wastewater and Parks & Recreation staff at the Sturgeon Creek Culvert at Saginaw Road. 
    • Dam/debris clearing along Sturgeon Creek between Saginaw Road and Wackerly Street.
    • Updated surveying of the Sturgeon Creek culvert at Saginaw Road completed by the Engineering Department to ensure it meets 100-year flood level for the watershed.
  • Snake Creek Culvert Evaluations
    • St. Andrews Road culvert  at Snake Creek was verified to meet 100-year flood levels.
    • Additional culverts will be inspected at the intersection of the creek with N. Saginaw Road, Castle Drive, W. Wheeler Street, and Sylvan Lane.
  • Jacobs Drain Evaluation
    • Specialized robotic cameras from RedZone Robotics were used to evaluate the condition of Jacobs Drain near the Midland County Fairgrounds. Crews discovered and removed debris that had caused a 50% blockage of the drain. 
    • Equipment will be installed in this area to ensure that future drain blockages will be mitigated.
  • Storm Sewer Inspections
    • Video inspections, pipe cleaning, and flushing have been completed on all Priority 1 areas (see the Storm & Sanitary Sewer Study documents above). Future clearing schedules for the storm water system will be evaluated and possibly increased.
    • Staff has begun inspecting and cleaning all Priority 2 areas as identified in the study.

Sanitary Sewer System

  • Sewer System Monitoring
    • A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) certified rain station has been installed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Additional rain gauges have been purchased and will be installed as telemetry systems are updated throughout the city.
    • Flow meters installed in sanitary and storm sewer systems in both Priority 1 & 2 areas to collect data for further analysis and provide real-time information during weather events.
    • Data collected from updated monitoring systems will be compiled and placed into the City’s modeling software to help identify additional areas of concern and better predict response to future weather events. 
  • Asset Characterization Program
    • Contractor RedZone Robotics has provided CCTV and sonar mapping of over 1 million feet of the City’s sanitary sewer system, inspections of over 4,500 manholes, and additional coding and development work. This was completed in late 2019 with video coding completed in early 2020.
  • Pump Station Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) 
    • Beginning in Fall 2019, the City has begun installing telemetry devices to upgrade its 42 pump stations with the ability to provide real-time flow data, rain levels, and pump information. In 2019,  Johnson and Anderson Consulting was hired to assist staff with the design, scope, bid and management of this project.
  • Footing Drain Disconnection Program
    • The study findings report identified the Whitewood Drive area as a candidate for a footing drain disconnection program, which would assist residences with the financial and physical requirements to remove their footing drain connections from the sanitary sewer and reconnect them properly to the storm sewer. The first step in establishing this program was accomplished when staff installed flow meters in both the sanitary and storm sewers in late 2018. The meters were left installed for an extended period of time until staff were confident that baseline dry and wet weather flows had been recorded. The next step in the process requires remodeling for further analysis using the new data.

      Watch the video below (presentation begins at the 1:18:00 mark) to view a full presentation and further detail about these initiatives from Director of Wastewater Services Patrick Frazee. You can also download a PDF version of his presentation and a document detailing all improvements via the buttons below the video.
 Click here to view the Activities Update Report (PDF)

 Click here to view the August 26 presentation (PDF)

Flood Response Updates: Year-by-Year

Since this update, additional improvements and funding allocations have been made to aid in our ongoing flood response efforts. For a full timeline of activities related to the Sanitary & Storm Sewer Study, please use the tabs in the container below to navigate by year. Each tab lists activities in chronological order.

  1. 2020
  2. 2019
  3. 2018


Note: Due to executive orders and restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the May 2020 flooding event, much of the City's planned sewer study work for 2020 was severely delayed or limited.

See the "May 2020 - Historic Flooding & Dam Failure" section below for specific information related to the 2020 flooding event. 

January 2020 - City Council Considers Millage Increase to Fund Flood Response

At its annual planning retreat on January 4, 2020, the Midland City Council gave City staff a budgeting directive to allocate additional funding to ongoing flood response and post-study work suggested in the Sanitary & Storm Sewer Study. This funding would come from a temporary 0.5 mill increase to the City’s millage rate, with funds put into the Stormwater Fund and utilized only for flood response activities.  Watch the video above from the January 13, 2020 City Council meeting for a summary of this directive from City Manager Brad Kaye (beginning at the 45:20 mark).

May 2020 - 2020-21 City Budget Reviewed, Approved with Additional Sewer Funding

The City's 2020-21 City Budget saw public hearings at the April 26 and May 11 City Council meetings, with final adoption on May 18, 2020. In the budget, several allocations were made to provide additional financial support to the City's Wastewater Fund and Stormwater Management Fund to assist in flood mitigation efforts and improvements.

Changes to Stormwater Management Fund included:

  • General operating millage rate increased from .4239 mills in 2019/20 to .4602 mills for 2020/21.
  • General Fund support increased from $920,000 in 2019/20 to $1,020,000 in the 2020/21 adopted budget.
    • Note: The amount of General Fund support was increased after the 2019/20 budget adoption to add another $500,000 to the 2019/20 budget, increasing the amount transferred from the General Fund  to the Stormwater Management Fund from $920,000 to $1,420,000. 

In addition, to help fund the startup of capital projects related to flood mitigation activities and stabilize the Wastewater Fund, the following allocations were made: the 2020/21 General Fund adopted budget included a $500,000 transfer to the Wastewater Fund for flood mitigation costs from the Stormwater Management Fund.

Watch the "What's Up in the City!' recap of the budget process above for more information.View the 2020-2021 approved City Budget here.

May 2020 - Historic Flooding & Dam Failure in Midland Create Sewer Outages

A map shows red polygons where the City experienced sanitary sewer outages during the May 2020 flood

A significant multi-day rain event and the subsequent failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams in Midland County on May 19, 2020, led to extensive overland flooding throughout Midland and an historic river level of 34.88 feet. As a result, five of the City's sanitary sewer pump stations were overcome by flood waters and caused sewer service outages to residents in several areas of the community. Once flood waters receded and conditions stabilized, crews were able to repair and bring back online all pump stations that served residents within 72 hours.

Residents were notified of sewer outages via Nixle.com text message and email alerts; Facebook and Twitter updates on the City's social media channels; email alerts to the City's email news list; press releases posted on the City's website and sent to local media for distribution; and an emergency alert bar at the top of the City's website pages. GIS also created an interactive map - which can be viewed here - to show updates in real time.

Crews from Wastewater, Water Distribution, Public Services, and public safety organizations would spend weeks repairing infrastructure, cleaning debris, and recovering from the significant impact of this life-altering event.

July 2020 - Director of Wastewater Services Provides Update on Sewer Outages & Flood Response

Click here to download a copy of the presentation (PDF)

At the July 27, 2020 City Council meeting, Director of Wastewater Services Patrick Frazee provided Council with an update on the impact the May 2020 flooding had on the City's utilities, including a deep-dive into the sewer outages caused by five sanitary sewer pump stations' being overtaken by flood waters. Click the video above to watch his presentation (beginning at the 3:13:00 mark).

August 2020 - Midland Daily News Chronicles "The Fight to Save Midland's Infrastructure"

A screenshot of a news article that says "The fight to save Midland's infrastructure from floo Opens in new window

In August 2020, the Midland Daily News sat down with Director of Wastewater Services Patrick Frazee and other City staff to take a deep dive into the events and aftermath of the May 2020 dam failure and its impact on wastewater infrastructure. Click the image above to read the article.

September 2020 - RedZone Robotics Begins Final Sewer Inspections

An African American man in a yellow jacket looks into a sewer manhole with a white van

Wastewater asset management contractor RedZone Robotics resumed its video and sonar evaluation of the City's sewer systems after inspection work was temporarily suspended due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and historic flooding in the Midland community. Inspection crews will continue to work in areas around the city until all infrastructure has been successfully mapped.

Click here to read a news release on the topic.

October 2020 - Midland Daily News Chronicles "New Normal" for River Levels

A screenshot of a Midland Daily News article showing a red bridge with measuring stick

In October, Director of Wastewater Services Patrick Frazee and Midland County Emergency Management Coordinator Jenifier Boyer sat down with the Midland Daily News to discuss the challenges the City and County of Midland face as we attempt to predict future flooding events without an active dam system in place on the Tittabawassee River. Without active dams restricting water flow in Sanford and Edenville, it's nearly impossible to predict how quickly river levels will rise - and where flood waters will go - during future flooding events. Click the image above to read the article.

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.