Bexley City Council seeks residents' input on program to help prevent sewer backups

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
City of Bexley

The city of Bexley is seeking residents’ input on a program to stop sewer backflows and prevent basements in residential areas from flooding during heavy rains like those in March and May of this year.

“Everything we’re talking about is a proposal,” Mayor Ben Kessler said during a Nov. 10 Bexley City Council special meeting to discuss the program. “It’s an ordinance before council. It has not been passed by council, and we’re asking for your feedback … to help inform that final solution.”  

Council is considering Ordinance 27-20, which Kessler said is an updated version of previous legislation that council looked at earlier this year after the spring floods. Since then, the city has consulted with experts and evaluated Columbus’ Project Dry Basement program to ensure that Bexley’s proposed program addresses the systemic causes of basement flooding, Kessler said. 

“The system that we’re tapping into, the Columbus regional sewer system, is simply not engineered to handle the type of floods that occurred in March and May,” he said. “What that means for us is that without locking down the hatches in every single way on our own individual properties, there will be flooding in prone properties. We’re trying to get to a solution that will assist property owners that have that flooding, even in the most severe circumstances.” 

Kessler said $375,000 would be allotted from the city’s sewer fund if the legislation is approved. The backflow-prevention program would: 

• Allow residents to apply for help up to six months after a basement floods due to heavy rains. 

• Authorize a city inspector to evaluate flooding conditions at residential properties where homeowners have applied to the program and recommend the installation of a backflow-prevention device and repairs that the homeowners are required to make to prevent future flooding. 

• Provide a city-issued grant to homeowners of up to $2,000 to cover the cost of installing the backflow-prevention device and complete repairs after the homeowners have already spent $3,000. 

• For expenses beyond the initial $5,000 required for repairs, provide a city-issued loan of up to $15,000 payable through a special assessment on the property with an interest rate of about 3%, based on current bond rates.  

 “We’re proposing a pilot program, which will be (open to) the first 100 signups to see how it all goes,” Kessler said. “We will prioritize those who have had flooding in the past before these past two events (in May and March).”   

The city is asking residents to review the ordinance and email suggestions for revisions before council’s Dec. 1 meeting, Kessler said.  

The city’s next steps are to evaluate residents’ feedback, incorporate any useful suggestions into the backflow-prevention program and “get rolling on this - hopefully, by early 2021,” Kessler said.  

To view the ordinance and provide feedback, visit the city’s website at bexley.org. 

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