Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Great Lakes Water Authority Responds to Metro Detroit Flooding, Says Blame Is Not on Organization

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Image credit: Russ McNamara

CEO of the Great Lakes Water Authority Sue McCormick insists GLWA was fully operational during the heavy rains that caused widespread flooding in Metro Detroit.

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Detroiters want to know what and who was responsible for the neglect in the city’s infrastructure that played a role in last week’s widespread flooding. Sue McCormick of the Great Lakes Water Authority says the blame is not on GLWA, and asserts the organization did everything it could to control the stormwater.

[The stormwater system] was overwhelmed like the systems were overwhelmed everywhere … the system is not designed for storms of this magnitude.” —Sue McCormick, Great Lakes Water Authority 


Listen: CEO of Great Lakes Water Authority Sue McCormick on flooding in Southeast Michigan.


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Sue McCormick is CEO of the Great Lakes Water Authority. She says the regional stormwater pumps were fully staffed during last week in anticipation of a rain event. “The question about staffing — was the facility appropriately staffed given the event that was expected? Yes.” McCormick says even with mass flooding on Detroit’s east side, the Connor Creek Pumping Station was working. “The Connor Creek pump did not fail … Pumps remained pumping, but the lights flickered, we had some dimming, but the pump station did not fail.” 

McCormick says to separate the storm infrastructure from the regular sewage system, it would cost around $17 billion, and, “for Detroit alone, it would be about $8 billion.” She says human error was not the cause of the flooding, but rather the size of the storm. “[The stormwater system] was overwhelmed like the systems were overwhelmed everywhere … the system is not designed for storms of this magnitude.”

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