Why Does Lubbock Have a Rain Drainage Problem?
I caught some video of my
drive float into the office today just to show how deep water can be on access and side roads. I wondered: 'Why is drainage so bad here?' Obviously, as evidenced by a quick Google search, I'm not alone in this long-standing complaint about the city of Lubbock and our drainage system -- or lack thereof.
In short, Lubbock is flat...
The magic combo of very flat land and short, hard rain falls known as downbursts means the land simply cannot soak in water from rains we see most often here in the South Plains. Because it is so flat here, the water simply has nowhere to go.
Look around: how many rivers or streams do you see here in the Hub City? None, really. That's because early developers utilized playa ponds to catch runoff. Can you believe there are 111 of these around us?
However, even with all those "catch ponds," the fact is that in order for street runoff to properly go to a drain, the drain must have some kind of outlet and, in many cases, that simply isn't the case. Or the inlet is so small (as in the case of Quaker Ave. at the loop) when we get a quick power-pour the inlet simply cannot handle the quick volume of water sent.
Interestingly, our drainage system is built to handle up to 6.8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. However, our downbursts often creae more than that. Since 2000, two major sewer projects have been completed here and another is currently in the works.
But without a full overhaul of our sewer and drainage system, streets that don't flood quickly after a quick, hard rainfall simply is impossible.
Thankfully the drainage system saw some improvement after Lubbock residents threatened a class-action lawsuit against the city due to flooding in 1999. So instead of taking days or weeks for streets to dry when the rain ceases, it's often only a few hours before roads are safe to travel.