At the bottom of my street sit two large metal panels. These control a couple of pumps connected to the storm drain system. The smaller panel with the red light controls the original pump. The city added the larger one last year since the smaller one overflowed into people's basements. We refer to the red light as the "Light of doom" because when this light was flashing our neighbor was likely to have a flooded basement.
The light has been dark, all year until this morning. The flashing light means that the amount of run off exceeds the capacity of the system. The city dispatches a large pump truck with a huge nozzle to remove water and debris from a chamber below the control panels. Bill, the worker shown in yellow, told me that the city has between 30 and 40 of these small pumps. Unfortunately, the noise of the pump truck was too much for any sort of serious interview. But just for this one pump there were three City trucks and five workers.
So I left them to their jobs, knowing that the crew had many more Lights of Doom to visit.
Tip: The City of Lawrence's web site has a section devoted to storm drainage issues at http://www.ci.lawrence.ks.us/publicworks/stormwater.shtml.
The Frequently Asked Questions page at this site provides information about residential and business storm drainage utility fees and handling different drainage related situations.