Ocean City Today

Downtown flooding remains ‘detective game,’ officials say

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 23, 2017

(Nov. 24, 2017) Resort officials are reassessing what it will take to pull the plug on downtown flooding, as the check valves installed on stormwater outfalls last year did not do the job.

Fourteen check valves were fitted in Ocean City’s pipe system in the area of Fourth Street south last year to help alleviate flooding caused by bay water backing up through stormwater outfalls during high tides.

The valves, or rubber flaps, are supposed to lift up to allow rainwater to exit, but close when water from the bay pushed from the other side during high tide.

Even so, flooding persisted downtown. But the problem may not be with the stormwater drains, city Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer said.

“The problem, I believe, is that the bulkhead isn’t water tight,” she wrote in an email. “The tide pushes back through the bulkhead, unconsolidated material or illicit connections. We are still evaluating where the water is coming from.”

The failed project was estimated to cost $17,500, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency covering 75 percent of the bill.

Another vendor, WafPro, sent city officials a valve to test. It will be used on the drainage system near Little Salisbury, but Blazer was not optimistic that it would work better than the previous equipment.

“I believe we’ll still have the same problem. It isn’t the valve — they work great … the water is backing up from someplace else,” she said. “It’s a detective game at this point, and we’re still trying to figure it out.”

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