Not having up-to-date information makes it challenging to determine what amount of drainage or overflow they can handle or what might be needed to alleviate overflow in areas prone to flooding. Having the information in a database will also make it easy to share information across departments and better determine the cost of projects, Elkins said.
"We want to know what we can do and what it'll cost," Elkins said of determining the price of solutions.
The city is working toward the goal of better controlling the effect storm water -- run off and precipitation from rain -- has on the city. About 80 percent of Charleston's storm-sewer system is combined.
It was designed to overflow during rainy storms in order to flush systems into the Kanawha and Elk rivers, Elkins said. The lines continue to overflow to this day.
"There's no way around that," Elkins said.
This design proves to be problematic in terms of water quality and quantity, Elkins said. There are 59 Combined Sewer Overflow points in the city. If there is 1/4 inch of rainfall, Elkins said, pipes in these areas reach their capacity and overflow into the river or flood neighborhoods.
"You end up with diluted, ... raw sanitary sewerage into the streams," Elkins said.
Those 59 CSO points are legal, but they are only permitted to release so much sewerage into streams each day -- their Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. But, that's not meant to last forever, and analysis based on new maps will help, Elkins said.
The overall goal is to eliminate CSO and reduce risk for flooding and pollution.
"By mapping the entire system, we know where we can alleviate maybe put in a separate storm sewer or remove water from the sewer system that will affect that CSO to the point where it won't have as many overflows," Elkins said. "We're kind of killing two birds with one stone here with all this mapping."
Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.mole...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.