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Here’s what we reported on today:

Here’s what we reported on today:

It’s raining pretty hard in Louisville on Sunday night. We have two flood updates from Twitter user Dannie Gregoire.

…Reports of 6″ over Brownsboro @ Linsay and water rescue at 8th and Jackson.

and…

8th & Jackson in New Albany

Any other updates on the storm? Leave them in the comments below.

Here’s what we reported on today (and yesterday afternoon):

Here’s what we reported on today:

Here’s what we reported on today:

Here’s what we reported on today:

Wednesday’s bake sale to benefit the Louisville Free Public Library raised a total of $911.

Michelle Jones organized the event and has a blog post about it. She dropped off the proceeds to the Library Foundation today. There were even a few additional donations that pushed the total over $1,000.

In related news, the main branch’s first floor is now open.

After yesterday’s flood committee meeting I had a conversation with a couple MSD officials.

MSD says no sewer system infrastructure malfunctioned on August 4th, but Chief Engineer Mark Johnson says the infrastructure under west and southwest Louisville may not have been up to par.

“These sewers were built from the 1800s to 1953 and I really can’t speak about what planning was done and what engineering went into sizing those sewers back then, but it’s obvious they didn’t realize we were going to have as dense a community in the urban areas as we have today.”

When the sewers were built, many houses didn’t have paved driveways, patios, sheds and other amenities that block water from seeping into the ground. Instead, these improvements push water into the sewers and cause overflows during heavy rains. The people who spoke at yesterday’s meeting say they’ve had water in their homes before August 4th, and it doesn’t take record rainfall to flood their houses.

Many neighborhoods outgrew the sewer system and the system wasn’t improved enough to match the growth.

MSD is working on a study that could lead to federal grant funds coming to Louisville. The money would be spent buying houses in flood-prone areas and replacing them with green space that will hold water in storms. The district is also considering upgrades to the sewer in some areas to prevent persistent flooding.

There are two important things to pick up here. First is the fact that even with improvements, it’d be difficult for any combined sewer system to handle a storm like August 4. Second is that the neighborhoods grew in small increments, so it didn’t look like there would be any sewer problems until those increments were added up on the 4th. It’s not entirely possible or helpful to blame people for improving their homes or MSD for not realizing what was happening over the last 60 years.

You could say MSD dropped the ball (plenty of folks at the meeting did) and you could say that a city’s desire to grow can’t compete with nature. You could say both of those things, but you’d be missing the point.

The problems with the sewer system seem to be problems of unsustainable growth. Infrastructure isn’t permanent; it needs constant maintenance and improvement. This only becomes more apparent as a city grows. Sewers built before the depression can’t handle a modern neighborhood’s waste or the weather events of a changing climate. Streets built for horse-drawn wagons may be charming and look great in parts of Europe, but they’re not practical for moving thousands of cars through a city. (I’m not against historical preservation, but it also needs to be sustainable.)

Sustainable development could mean making sure infrastructure is solid and efficient, then limiting how it’s used. This could be politically unpopular because it requires money to be spent and laws to be changed. But at least then you won’t have to go back in a few decades and tear down houses because the city grew too fast.

I want to clarify that none of this is a knock on MSD or Louisvillians. August 4th was a record storm and I don’t think there are any sinister intentions behind not upgrading the sewer. Money is tight and it’s hard to tell what needs to be done until it’s too late. As Councilman Tom Owen said after the committee meeting, Never before have the vulnerabilities of a combined sewer system been so exposed.

Here’s what we reported on today:

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