Where Does the Rain Go?

Img 5263Downtown Akron after a thunderstorm

We’re seeing a lot of rain here in downtown Akron. Have you ever looked out the window and asked yourself, “Where does it all  go?”

So, where DOES it go?

Rain that falls on our yards, streets, sidewalks, and driveways flows to the lowest point that it can. Hopefully that’s a storm sewer or driveway drain that ties into a storm sewer. It will travel through the storm sewer system to a receiving waterway, eventually making its way to the Cuyahoga River, Little Cuyahoga River, Ohio & Erie Canal or to the Water Reclamation Facility.

The rain on the roof trickles down to spouting, and make its way (hopefully) to the storm sewer as well.

What are some issues that this water can cause?

Wet Basements

If a lawn or driveway isn’t graded properly, water could collect at the walls of a home and find its way into the foundation, leading to a soggy basement. Clogged spouting could lead to a wet basement as well. If your spouting overflows when it rains, or if you have long icicles hanging from it in the winter, it may need to be cleared out. This is something that should be done a few times a year. Typically, trees are to blame for clogged spouting. Seeds in the spring and leaves in the fall land in the gutters and prevent water from flowing through them freely. Cleaning them out typically requires climbing a ladder. If you don’t feel safe doing this on your own, find someone who can help you or do it for you.

Combined Sewer Overflows

In a combined sewer system, high volumes of water may contribute to a combined sewer overflow, where clean water from rain and melting snow mixes with sewage from sanitary sewers. If the volume exceeds the capacity of the system, it overflows into a receiving waterway. The main goal of the Akron Waterways Renewed! program is to update our sewer system to help control these overflows. You can learn more about combined sewers and overflows here.

Clean Water Disconnects

Img 5269 Storm sewers collect surface water during wet weather

Another issue that could arise is clean water ending up in the sanitary sewer. This happens when clean water connections, such as driveway drains and spouting, are connected to the wrong sewer system; in this case, the sanitary sewer. The extra water in the sanitary sewer could contribute to an overflow. The potential for this overflow could be reduced if the water were to flow into the storm sewer instead of the sanitary sewer. Drains that still flow to the sanitary sewer instead of a storm sewer are more common in areas where there used to be a combined sewer but has since been separated.

This is currently an issue in Akron’s Merriman, Middlebury, and North Hill neighborhoods. New storm sewers are being constructed or considered in these neighborhoods as part of the AWR! program. The existing combined sewer will be separated and the storm water will drain to a storm sewer instead of the sanitary sewer. The City is conducting dye testing in these areas to verify that everything is flowing to the right place. Dye testing is non-invasive and testers won’t need to enter a home unless there is a sump pump in the basement. The City is bearing the cost of the testing and any improvements that need to be made to address the issue. You can read more about dye testing here.

If you have any questions about dye testing or the Akron Waterways Renewed! Program in general, feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email at communications@akronwaterwaysrenewed.com.

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