Rain brings flooding issues, safety concerns to Dubuque streets

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- After a significant amount of rainfall in recent weeks, Dubuque city officials agree it is time for the rain to go away.

Drivers may have noticed coming down either West Locust Street or Rosedale Avenue Wednesday morning that the Dubuque Public Works department cleaning up the roads; that's because after another heavy rain in Dubuque, an area of the sanitary sewer started to overflow, forcing basements to flood and crews to clean the streets.

"We've done a lot of improvements over the years- today, of course, reminded us that our work's not done," said John Klostermann, Public Works Director for the City of Dubuque. "So we need to continue to do that."

Klostermann said sanitary sewer overflows are not common- most recently recalling incidents in 2016 and 2011- both related to heavy rain. He explained going in and re-doing the sewer lines is not a simple project.

"We've done things like smoke testing, door-to-door inspections, and we continue to work on the program and the problems, but it's very difficult and expensive to remove," Klostermann said.

As rain continues to fall, some may be concerned with another one of the older features in the city: its massive retaining walls. But Assistant City Engineer Bob Schiesl put the concerns as ease.

"Thankfully, we are not seeing any issues with the severe wet weather that we've had this fall," Schiesl said.

As a precaution to stay proactive, Schiesl says engineers are conducting routine checks.

"We actually have two walls- two segments of retaining walls, they're big, old, historic limestone block gravity retaining walls that we are monitoring," Schiesl said.

He says conducting those checks, could save money and avoid damage to homes.

"Those ones that we see that are starting to age, we do try to keep a little closer eye on them, because they would be pretty catastrophic if they were to fail," Schiesl said.

Schiesl also added with all the rain, it is a good time to make sure private retaining walls are still in good shape. He says to look out for any pooling along the top of the wall, or if it is starting to lose its shape. At that point, it might make sense to bring in a professional for repair.