Neighborhoods such as Jefferson Chalmers are already experiencing the effects of climate change. Heavy rainfall can leave the neighborhood flooded for weeks.
Flooding and sewage backup put Detroiters at dangerous health risks. A combined storm and sewage system mean human waste can be discharged when the system reaches capacity. Detroiters have reported experiencing the spread of infection, disease, black mold, worsened asthma, and degraded mental health, among other concerns. Areas along the coast of the Detroit River are at the greatest risk for these challenges.
In the short term:
We can improve its resilience against extreme weather through capital improvements to its sewer system. DWSD has invested $20 million into relining sewer pipes and plans to do capital improvements at the Connor Creek Combined Sewer Outflow facility. According to the Fiscal Year 2020-2024 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan, the City of Detroit is scheduled to invest $128.5 million in sewer replacement/renewal. However, there is no indication whether this will simply maintain the capacity of the system or improve as needed. The City has also invested in green infrastructure as a way to improve resilience to severe weather patterns, by using open green space to absorb stormwater. Lastly, home repair loans should be given to homeowners within flood zones for preventative measures.
In the long term:
We should look to cut its carbon emissions. The biggest driver of carbon emissions is transportation. By investing in more efficient forms of transportation such as public transit and electric vehicles, we can reduce our city’s carbon footprint. Most importantly, it is essential for our city to plant trees. Trees change carbon dioxide into oxygen and have immense health benefits for people. Detroit needs to become a more eco-friendly city. I will fight to make sure that American Rescue Plan and Infrastructure bill funding are guided towards these projects, and that Detroiters are first in line for the Green Jobs that these bills will create.
Climate Change & Detroit
Globally, climate change is driven by high carbon emissions. The extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps heat through the Greenhouse effect, raising global temperature levels. This rise in temperature melts polar ice caps and leads to higher sea levels, greater rainfall, and extreme storm patterns.
Detroit is most vulnerable to extreme storm patterns. The city has a combined storm and sewage drainage system. During intense weather, rain can fall faster than it can be collected, and the system can run overcapacity. When this happens, streets flood, sewage is backed up into the basements of residents’ homes, and DWSD must expel wastewater into the Detroit River, polluting our water and breaking the Clean Water Act.