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September rain storm shows need for flood control construction projects in Auburn

Citizens urged to keep storm drains clear

Clear the drainAuburn, along with many cities, experienced localized urban flooding due to the significant amount of rain during the Sept. 5 storm that saw nearly 2 inches of rain fall during this single event. This storm was classified as a 50 year event (an event that is may occur once every 50 years) and caused flooding on roadways on Auburn Way S., West Valley Hwy. N., 10th St. NE and C St. NE.

To address these flooding issues, the City of Auburn has two funded capital improvement projects to address the flooding issues on Auburn Way S. and C St. NE.

On Auburn Way S., the second of a two-phase project is ready to begin. Phase I of the project improved trunk lines and installed a new pump station to improve drainage capacity on Auburn Way S. near the Hwy 18 underpass. Phase II will address the remaining issues of flooding closer to the underpass and other areas. This project has a budget of just over $1.6 million.

The C St. NE flooding issues will be addressed as part of the 30th Street NE Area Flooding project which will increase the size of storm line pipes from 30 inches to 42 inches in diameter near Dick Scobee Field and Brannan Park. This project is budgeted for about $2.5 million. 

The City’s Storm Drainage Utility provides the funding for the capital improvement projects as well as for ongoing maintenance of the City’s drainage systems.

While the causes of flooding on West Valley Highway and 10th St. NE not are not fully understood at this time, City Staff are investigating.  Citizens can assist in preventing localized flooding by ensuring that storm drains near their homes and businesses remain free of leaves or debris. In general, this is the more common cause of urban flooding on Auburn’s streets than larger infrastructure problems. Remember, before it rains...clear the drains!

As autumn leaves start to fall along with the rain, City officials encourage residents to check the drains near their property often to keep them clear and discourage citizens from blowing, sweeping or raking leaves or debris into the street. Instead, place leaves in your yard waste containers for recycling, use for composting or take yard debris to a recycling facility. 

The City’s Storm Drainage Utility was formed in 1986 with the goal of providing infrastructure that is sized to accommodate up to a 25 year flood event. The rather large and unusual event we experienced in September served as a good test of the City’s system and was helpful in identifying areas that still require system investments in the future to assure that Auburn citizens have the level of protection that is essential to a vital and healthy community and to serve future growth.