Blocked sewer grates create hazards for pedestrians

    After snowstorms, we hear a lot about the woes of drivers and commuters. But being a pedestrian, especially in Philadelphia, has its own challenges:

    After snowstorms, we hear a lot about the woes of drivers and commuters. But being a pedestrian, especially in Philadelphia, has its own challenges:

    [audio:100211mspuddles.mp3]

    In addition to slippery sidewalks pedestrians have to traverse huge puddles at most intersections. Snow is blocking the sewer grate inlets, and melted snow is backing up.

    Rosario Renai of North Philadelphia is trying to make his way home from Center City:

    Renai: You know, you have to watch you step here and there, because if you step on it, its going to be water, and your feet will get soaking wet, but you know, you come along, little by little.

    Robert Traver is director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership. He says another factor contributes to this problem:

    Traver: Sometime, especially in Philadelphia, some of the streets settle, and the inlet has to be at the low point, if it’s not at the low point, you’re going to get a puddle.

    Howard Neukrug, director of the Philadelphia office of watersheds says residents can help prevent problems with blocked sewer grates

    Neukrug:
    Make sure first of all that they don’t further exasperate the problem by adding more snow on top of that inlet, and if they can, to make sure that there is a place, when the storm subsides and temperatures rise, there’s a way for the water to get into that inlet would be very helpful.

    Neukrug says the sewer system gets overwhelmed with water and runoff during big storms, but as long as the sewer grates are clear, puddles will clear up quickly.

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