Resident blames new transit center for storm water runoff

Comments Comments Print Print
Neil Johnson
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

JANESVILLE—The first resident complaint about Janesville's new Transit Services Center has nothing to do with noise or bus traffic.

The problem, apparently, is stormwater runoff.

Resident Don Cullen said a residential lot he owns at 1804 N. Parker Drive just west of the new transit center now gets a narrow, shallow creek of runoff coursing through it whenever it rains hard.

The water comes out of a town of Janesville drainage swale off the west side of Highway 51. It pours from a 36-inch culvert the state Department of Transportation installed in the 1930s to handle storm runoff along the highway, according to local plat maps. The area slopes west from the highway down to the Rock River.

During heavy rain, the pipe dumps water into the east side of Cullen's property, which has a metal storage building but no residence.

The water forms a small creek, which flows downhill through the property and under another culvert beneath North Parker Drive, then continues “at least ankle deep” over his downhill neighbors' driveway on its way to the river, Cullen said.   

Cullen blames the intermittent runoff on a new detention pond the city dug on the east side of the 40,000-square-foot transit center.

City officials admit the city decided to link an overflow drainpipe from the detention pond into the old culvert, but they said runoff from the transit center is within state limits, and there's less runoff now than when the transit center was being developed.

Cullen said he's owned the property since 2002, and prior to the transit center being built he'd never seen water running through the old culvert. For years, it was packed full of dirt and detritus.

“I think water coming off the new (transit) property has blown it open,” Cullen said.

Department of Public Works Director Paul Woodard said the transit center site doesn't just drain into the DOT culvert, and that the city site is “compliant” with state stormwater runoff rules. He said city calculations show stormwater release rates at the transit site are actually lower now than while the city was developing the transit center.

Woodard said the culvert that empties onto Cullen's property and down the hill runs through 15 acres, but only two of those acres are city-owned.

“We're just a small area that drains into that pipe. I'm not disputing that he's getting more water there, but the city's (transit center) area isn't the only place where water's coming from,” Woodard said.

The city is meeting with Cullen, the DOT, and Rock County officials Aug. 26. Woodard said the group hopes to find a remedy, but it's not clear who could ultimately fix the problem. He said stormwater and the infrastructure that carries it are from more than one jurisdiction.

“The question is whose responsibility it is,” Woodard said.

Cullen said he's been seeking a fix since earlier this year. He fears the situation could get wrapped in red tape.

He thinks the city should have thought about where water could end up when it linked city drainage into an old culvert that empties into a residential lot.

“They (the city) should be responsible for tying a storm sewer into that old system,” Cullen said.

Comments Comments Print Print