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MMSD to determine cause of backups

Nearly 200 homes forced to sanitize after heavy rains

June 19, 2008

Weary from days of cleaning and sanitizing their basements after sanitary sewers backed up, about a dozen Brown Deer residents asked the Village Board on June 16 why it happened.

The exact number still is not known, but officials said almost 200 houses in the village experienced the backups after rains on June 7 and 8.

Village Manager Russell Van Gompel said the village is working with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to determine the cause.

He explained the problem occurred in a large underground chamber at Beaver Creek and Green Bay Road. The chamber, owned by MMSD, is a collection point for both the Brown Deer and Mequon sanitary sewer systems.

“The gates and the controlling system both malfunctioned,” Van Gompel said. “We don’t know why they both failed.”

Cedric Parish, 9075 N. Alpine Lane, an engineer, asked the village to review MMSD’s testing procedures for its gates.

Beaver Creek running high

Jimmie Johnson, 5113 W. Joleno Lane, said there was three feet of sewage in her basement. She was concerned because Beaver Creek, which runs behind her house, still was high and wondered if the village could do anything about the creek.

“Beaver Creek won’t go down until the Milwaukee River goes down,” Van Gompel said.

Because the river is higher than the creek at flood stage, the water from the creek cannot enter the river. As the river goes down, the creek will drain.

Department moved temporarily

The lower level of Village Hall, 4800 W. Green Brook Drive, also was flooded in the sanitary sewer backup. Discovered the night of June 7, professional cleaners worked June 8 to clean the area, only to find more sewer backup June 9.

Van Gompel said there is substantial damage to equipment, furnishings, wood trim, dry wall and electronic equipment.

The Park and Recreation Department, located on the lower level, has been moved upstairs until the cleanup and restoration is completed.

Response appreciated

The village responded to the sanitary sewer backups by placing commercial Dumpsters in 16 different spots in the flood-affected areas to assist residents hauling sewage-laden items from their basements.

Van Gompel on June 17 said the village is pulling back some of the Dumpsters because they are increasingly being used for nonflood related materials, such as yard waste.

Van Gompel said a few homes in the village also had clear water leak into basements but said improper drainage, failure of sump pumps and other reasons specific to those properties caused those problems.

Since 1997, the village has spent millions of dollars to contain and channel stormwater runoff. Those systems worked properly, Van Gompel said.

Mary Buckley can be reached at (262) 446-6615.

Flood assistance

• Brown Deer residents can report damage to the village hotline, (414) 371-3010.

• Milwaukee County residents may be eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency

Management Agency to make homes habitable. This includes money for items like hot-water heaters and furnaces. However, the money may not be used to replace luxury items like big-screen televisions and stereos. Residents may register with FEMA by calling (800) 621-FEMA, or going online at

At a glance

WHAT: Brown Deer residents who need to dispose of debris and furniture from the flood can arrange for pickup or assistance in moving it to one of the remaining Dumpsters.

CONTACT: Public Works, (414) 357-0120

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