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Solutions in sight for Evansville stormwater problems

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GINA R. HEINE
November 28, 2007
— Sue Farrey spent $20,000 to replace her basement tile drainage system and restore her family’s finished basement after August rains flooded homes along South Sixth Street in Evansville.

Her neighbor Lara LeRoy was in the process of finishing her basement, but instead had to spend $10,000 to replace the home’s tile drainage system, too. She still plans to finish the basement, “but we’re scared to death” that problems could repeat, she said.


But there could be some preventative solutions, said city engineer Dave Sauer during Tuesday night’s public works meeting. About a dozen residents attended after the city sent personal invitations to affected residents.


The main problem has been sitting water that is supposed to move from a pond north of Porter Road down to a detention pond at South Sixth and Vision streets.


City engineers surveyed the area this fall to find out if the system is working as designed, and Sauer said parts of it need maintenance.


The area from Porter Road to about 350 feet before South Sixth Street is fine, but sediment buildup is blocking flow from there to the detention pond at Vision Street, Sauer said.


The city is committed to completing sediment removal and erosion repairs as soon as possible and when the weather is most appropriate, committee chair Mason Braunschweig said.


The system is designed to handle a 100-year storm, which would be 5 to 6 inches of rain in 24 hours. But the area received more than 9 inches from Aug. 6-8.


Mike Liebman, a stormwater specialist with the city’s engineering firm, and Joe DeYoung of MSA Professional Services, also presented new maps of the floodplain. DeYoung was hired by developers of the Westfield Meadows subdivision in the works west of South Sixth Street.


Original mapping of Evansville’s floodplain never included the west side, and an updated version of the map based on the engineering studies is in the approval process.


When the new map becomes official in June, the area will be declared a floodplain, which would mean residents there could be forced to pay for flood insurance, Liebman said.


An additional 2 feet of fill is being added before homes are built in Westfield Meadows, and that development has adequate stormwater solutions and should not contribute to current problems, DeYoung said.


Much of the water comes off agriculture fields to the west, outside of the city limits, and working with the Town of Union is key, officials said. An intergovernmental agreement to work on items such as stormwater has moved slowly, Braunschweig said.


Funding for bigger projects could come through the creation of a stormwater utility, he said. City staff is preparing information on such a move, which would allow the city to collect money from fees based on stormwater use instead of funding from taxes.



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