City of Wichita asks for patience with storm drains

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The City of Wichita says its sewer drains are working as designed, they were just never designed for the types of heavy rains we've had this spring. The City of Wichita says its sewer drains are working as designed, they were just never designed for the types of heavy rains we've had this spring.
Flooding near 13th and Meridian in Wichita on June 18, 2019 (Matt Crow/KAKE) Flooding near 13th and Meridian in Wichita on June 18, 2019 (Matt Crow/KAKE)
The City of Wichita asks residents not to let sump pumps drain into the street and down into the already overloaded sewer system. The City of Wichita asks residents not to let sump pumps drain into the street and down into the already overloaded sewer system.
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"Be patient.  Be patient and let the storm sewer do it's work," said Don Henry, assistant director of the Wichita Public Works Department.

We've heard complaints about an increase in street flooding across Wichita for weeks now, every time it rains.  It's flooding that seems to take forever to drain away.

"Where you get these really intense storms over a short period of time, then it is just a lot of water that the system has to deal with," Henry said.

He says the city's sewer system drains are doing exactly what they're designed to do.  The problem is, they're not designed for the amount of rain we've been getting

"Our major arterials and some of the more critical areas are designed to maybe handle a hundred year storm event," Henry said.   "When you think in terms of a hundred year storm that's usually considered about seven inches over a 24 hour period."

This year, Wichita's been getting that much rain in a couple of hours.  The drains can't keep up.

"The water just has to stand there until the storm sewers are able to drain it away to the river," Henry said. 

So while the city has workers on 24 hour standby and crews out on the streets during every storm, checking to make sure those drains stay clear of debris, the Public Works Department is asking one thing from Wichitans.

"The main thing is just to ask people to be patient,"Henry said.  "Let us know if you see something that concerns you.  But understand that we're working it. That the systems are working fine."

And some good news, the city says while crews have worked a lot of overtime responding to storms this spring, at this point the cost for all that repair and extra maintenance work is still within the planned budget.

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