Aging culverts, ditches used to channel Nashville's stormwater overwhelmed by back-to-back storms

clogged culvert
Posted at 4:23 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 20:00:03-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Heavy rain most of the day Tuesday has caused aging culverts to clog up with mud and debris.

Stormwater usually passes through Richard Blackett's yard in West Meade to a culvert, but lately, it's been overwhelmed. The edge of his backyard is covered in water because of it.

"There is supposedly an outlet a few houses down, but the water just doesn't get there or it doesn't get there fast enough to prevent this sort of thing from happening," said Blackett.

A lot of Blackett's West Meade and Hillwood neighbors can relate. Most properties rely on culverts to channel water out of the area.

After seeing some pushed to their limits, the district's council member thinks it's time to prioritize infrastructure rather than development.

"I think we really got to take a serious look at what we need to do to prevent [flooding]," said Thom Druffel. "Do we need to look at our culvert size? What do we need to do to make an impact to prevent this? It's hitting a lot of houses [and] it's getting into some houses, which really causes a lot of damage."

Construction of new homes, some triple the size of the original homes in the neighborhood, is maxing out channels, according to Druffel.

"We've gone through a lot of development in our neighborhood. We're replacing 5,000 square-feet houses, plus pools and patios when there was 1,500 square foot home before. I believe that the ability of the water to soak in has gone away," Druffel said.

According to Metro Water Services, new construction is not allowed to increase upstream or downstream flooding. However, it only requires that builders prove that the first inch of any rain event has a way to soak into the ground.

You can minimize your flooding by clearing debris from ditches and culverts and pointing your downspouts away from your home.