Fix for Cape Elizabeth neighborhood’s drainage woes estimated at $100K

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Town officials met with residents of Beverly Terrace Feb. 26 to discuss drainage improvements.

Public Works Director Bob Malley said problems related to the partial failure of the common cellar drain connected to some homes began between three and five years ago.

Nine homes line Beverly Terrace between its two connections to State Avenue, which is off Ocean House Road and parallel to the nearby Trout Brook.

Residents have complained about lawns and basements flooding as a result of the situation. In the winter, the surface water freezes, causing a safety issue for pedestrians. The excess water drowns lawns and serves as a “mosquito haven” in the summer.

Elizabeth Matheson said her entire back yard at 6 Beverly Terrace has become a pond.

“I’ve lost 3 feet of my property to running water,” she said.

Last summer, the town hired Sebago Technics to document the conditions, develop options for drainage improvements and prepare repair cost estimates for the town to consider.

In a report, engineer Steve Harding said the surface water problems stem from basement drain surface discharges from individual sump pumps, the generally flat terrain of the area, and the lack of a public stormwater collection and conveyance system.

The recommendation is to install a new surface drainage system and meet with individual homeowners to tie their sump pump discharges into the new system.

Pre-design estimates place the cost of the project around $100,000; Malley said the funds would come from the town’s roadway and drainage account.

“While we understand there may be a desire of some in the neighborhood for the town to replace the common foundation pipe system, this approach would represent a deviation in normal practice for a municipality to publicly fund the replacement of a private system for the benefit of private residences,” Harding said in his report.

According to the report, the new system would be about 4 feet deep and include five catch basins with open grates that allow surface water to enter the system and underground connection pipes to carry the stormwater to the desired location.

“They’re really angle points,” Malley said. “When we have to angle the pipe, we have to have a structure to do that.”

Connecting underground pipes can also be adapted to collect individual basement drainage by adding collection stubs to individual properties.

Sebago also explored improving the existing common foundation drain system, but said this would be more expensive and difficult because the outfall of the system “appears to be located in the driveway of the 14 State Ave. residential lot and then under a detached garage before out falling near Trout Brook.”

While that option would alleviate the amount of discharge groundwater water collected in basements, it may not effectively address the neighborhood’s surface water problem.

According to Harding, installing a new surface drainage system will reduce the residents’ dependence on the common foundation system and provide a way to discard excess groundwater without the need to pump it onto the ground surface.

The town will move forward by accepting bids from interested contractors and meeting with residents to discuss how their sump pumps could tie into the new systems.

Malley said construction may involve work on residents’ lawns, which would require the town to attain construction easements from property owners.

“That gives the town the right to work on private property,” he said. “We have to have that paperwork to protect you and protect the town.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

For years, property owners on Beverly Terrace in Cape Elizabeth have faced drainage issues related to the partial failure of a common cellar drain. Now the town is proposing a remedy that may cost $100,000.

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