Why Your County Needs Pipes, Culverts, and Ditches
These staples of flood management offer protection when utilized correctly
Why your county needs them: Pipes, culverts, and ditches each provide long-term solutions to fight flooding. Some plastic and clay pipes can last up to 100 years, much longer than other flood solutions like beach renourishment or seawalls. Steel or concrete culverts boast long lifespans as well at up to 75 and 100 years, respectively. Drainage ditches cost the least and potentially offer the longest lifespan, assuming regular maintenance and cleaning.
Take action: Your county likely already has a stormwater system in place that features pipes, culverts, and ditches, however, most were built a long time ago and need to be bigger to adequately handle present-day levels of rainfall and flooding. Many current outfall pipes also sit too low for rising sea levels. New roads and bridges should include culverts below if water regularly accumulates around them.
Yes, but: Elected officials may point out the relatively high cost of pipe and culvert projects, and the maintenance required to keep ditches effective. But as more common and strong floods cost more and more money, these long-lasting solutions could save taxpayers and the county money over time.
What experts say: Cities like Boston are already thinking about heavier rainstorms and flooding that could overwhelm their drainage pipes.
“The pipes are designed to carry a certain capacity, and if the rain is coming so hard and so fast, they can't convey it fast enough,” Charlie Jewell, director of planning at the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, told WBUR. “Who would have thought about 60 inches of rain? That was just unprecedented.”