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Covington plan for keeping raw sewage, flooding out of basements doesn't give much hope to residents

Even Public Works Director says it’s not 'the end solution'
Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-21 21:52:45-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Even as residents worked a sixth day to clean raw sewage out of their basements, the city wasn’t offering much hope or help to victims of the repeated flooding on Euclid Avenue.

Mark Alexander said he doubts the city’s new plan to stem the floodwater and filth will work. Even Rick Davis, the city’s Public Works Director, says it’s not a be-all-end-all solution.

“We don’t think this will be the end solution to preventing flooding there, but we’re making the right steps in the right direction,” Davis said.

The plan is to add two more detention basins to help with flooding and sewage backup in the Peaselburg neighborhood during big storms. There are four basins right now.

The city of Covington just won federal funding to help pay $690,000 of the cost. Sanitation District No. 1 will cover the rest.

Davis said the detention basin on Highland Avenue and Benton Road is supposed to prevent flooding nearby.

“There’s a series of detention basins that come down the hill and it outlets right here and it fills up,” Davis said.

“What we try to do is retain as much water as possible and allow it to go slowly into the storm drains and combined sewer systems instead of all at one time.”

The two new basins will go near Pointe Benton Street.

But construction won’t start until next year.

The public works director said at least it will make things better.

“All we’re trying to do is prevent and take action,” Davis said. “This will make a difference. Again, this is in the Pointe Benton area, so any kind of impact off the hillsides in that area.”

But it’s too little, too late for Alexander, who lives on Euclid Avenue. He’s planning to move.

“I’m not a city engineer, but I personally don’t think that’s the solution,” Alexander said.

Alexander was going through the ruins of the personal treasures he keeps in his basement while he and his neighbors kept filling the dumpster on the street.

“This is the kind of stuff that I don’t know if I’ll get clean,” Alexander said.

He was beginning to realize just how bad the sewage backup last weekend really was.

“I’ve been taking it a little bit at a time,” he said. “It’s overwhelming when you keep finding things that are lost.”

Alexander is currently renting a home and says he’ll soon be on his way out.

“I don’t think we’ll want to live on this street because I think, who knows, maybe it will happen again before summer is over,” he said.

Alexander said if the four current basins couldn’t prevent sewage from backing up into his basement over the weekend, the city should look for other options.

WCPO asked the city about replacing the old lines with stormwater and sewage flowing through the same pipes. We were that would be a multi-billion dollar project.

Others on Euclid Avenue have questioned why the city isn’t helping elderly residents clean up or offering any money to replace damaged property.

We’ve been told that liability issues prevent city workers from helping private homeowners. As for replacing damaged property, the city says that’s a matter for insurance companies.

Alexander is also concerned about the health impacts of cleaning up the mess in his basement. The Northern Kentucky Health Department recommends wearing gloves, masks and goggles and has posted other tips on its website.

WCPO reached out to SD1 for an interview but we have not heard back.