Birmingham City Council

Birmingham to Get Federal Help to Improve Stormwater System, Reduce Flooding

Birmingham City Council meets 5.10.22 (Source: Council’s Facebook livestream)

Birmingham will receive federal assistance to assess and improve the city’s stormwater drainage systems.

The city is one of 20 in the nation — out of more than 100 applicants — to receive a technical assistance grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“There’s no direct funding that will be given to the city,” Kim Speorl, a zoning administrator for the city, told councilors Tuesday. “We will be given a representative who will work with our stormwater and our floodplain and hazard mitigation department to identify projects to apply for FEMA grant funding in the future.”

Speorl called the grant “a win for the city of Birmingham.”

Stormwater management is one of the largest infrastructural issues facing Birmingham. Last month, Mayor Randall Woodfin told attendees at the Bloomberg CityLab summit in Amsterdam, Netherlands, that the city’s fire department has performed 86 water rescues in 2022 alone.

Roughly 18,000 of the city’s 27,000 stormwater inlets have been found to be “past their lifespan,” he said, adding that it would cost roughly $500 million to repair them all.

Extreme weather patterns caused by climate change have exacerbated the issue, he said, which disproportionately affects Black residents who historically have been redlined into living in floodplains. Federal assistance, he said, would be essential in fighting this problem.