But what about the footing drains? For years, the city let developers pipe runoff from new homes and businesses into its "sanitary" sewers. In heavy rains, that water overwhelmed the system, causing sewage to back up into hundreds of basements around town. So since 2001, the city has paid Perimeter and other contractors to redirect the runoff from 2,000 homes and businesses into the storm sewers.
Lauren Mermelstein, who's lived at 2099 Ascot for sixteen years so far without a flood, blames her neighbors' problems on that switch: "Everybody has allowed the city to bully them into it, and everybody knows it turns a dry basement into a flooding basement," she says. She's resisted efforts to disconnect her own footing drains, but says the city is getting tough. "They send you a ninety-day notice saying they'll fine you $100 a month if you don't comply."
Mermelstein wants to see a different solution: "Just widen the sewers!"
Craig Hupy wishes it were that simple. "People assume the storm sewers will pass every drop of rain," he says, "but they're designed to mimic nature and store the water in low spots." The Malletts Creek system, he says, is typical of the rest of the city, and the entire Great Lakes region: "In fact, I'd say it's darn near universal."