Lansing Planning $420 Million Sewer Fix

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On Monday night the Lansing City Council Committee of the Whole discussed the city's recent and persistent flooding problems in several Lansing neighborhoods.

Dozens of residents, like Peter March, came out to plead to the city to fix the issue.

March said his basement in his Colonial Village neighborhood home has flooded out three times in recent years. He blames it on the nearby Combined Sewer Overflow, or CSO, project that made the sewer pipes smaller to allow less sewage drainage into the Grand River.

"The city engineering department has admitted the pipes were put in by mistake and they were too small," March said. "But they don't seem to be willing to do anything about it."

Until now.

The city is in the midst of undertaking a $420 million, multi-decade project to upgrade the sewer system and hopefully put an end to the flooding issues.

Chad Gamble, director of the public service department in Lansing, said the new Sanitary Sewer Overflow, or SSO, project is in addition to the $160 million CSO project.

"These programs are meant to react to unfunded mandates by the federal government but it also addresses flooding in people's basements which is important to us to be able to solve," Gamble said.

The SSO project will add additional sewer capacity, better pump stations and retention basins to collect excess rain during large storms.

Gamble said the cost of the project is about $230 million less than the city originally anticipated.

"It's very important for us to move forward in a cost effective way to make sure that sewer rates are rates that keep people in Lansing," he said. "We also want people when they move here to understand that we're doing out very best to protect them."

Funding for the project is coming from the city's general fund and Gamble said the city wants to avoid raising sewer rates, which is why the project isn't expected to be completed until at least 2030.

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