With spring fast approaching and bringing the potential for heavy rains, the Cole County Commission is trying to address stormwater concerns.
At Tuesday's regular meeting, commissioners gave County Engineer Eric Landwher approval to move forward with plans to address stormwater issues in Apache Flats.
"We would like to do some analysis of some problem areas, and we're looking at the possibility of the county building some stormwater detention basins on county-owned property to alleviate flooding concerns of some residents," Landwehr said.
Landwehr said the properties at one time were part of the former Grays Creek Sewer District. One property is adjacent to the east side of Pioneer Trail Elementary known as the Brookview/Gateway Detention Storage Area. The other property is located behind Larry's Honda off of Business 50, known as the Veil of Tears Detention Storage Area.
Landwehr said he would like an engineering firm to analyze what needs to be done using money from the county half-cent capital improvement sales tax.
"We are working on a stormwater plan or ordinance that would require developers to install detention as they build their subdivision so they are not adding to problems that already exist," he said. "There's some movement along the Old Lohman corridor north of Westview with some property owners there to do a new development, and it would be required that they put in detention."
Landwehr said no systems are failing. The problems are coming about due to heavier rainfall in recent springs.
"We're finding that creeks are filling in and the water is not moving through like it used to," he said. "Some pipes are undersized that may have been OK years ago, but not now. The problems have probably been there for a while, especially in Apache Flats and further on down. I just think the recent storms were worse than what we've seen in the past, and it's bringing the stormwater problems to the forefront."
"It's not as simple as water runs downhill," Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said. "Sometimes there's big logs that get in there, but a lot of things could be relieved if people would quit throwing their trash in these creeks."
"I think the analysis will be good because it may be able to show that if the creeks were clean then the problems could be relieved so we could go back to the property owners and say you need to keep these areas clean," Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle said. "If they don't that could lead to flooding. It's not necessarily our fault. Keep in mind these storms were dumping rain at the rate of 3 inches an hour. We can't design something to take that much rainfall. If it happens again, our system won't handle it."
The county is also looking to do stormwater analysis in the Brookview Drive and Gateway Drive area of Apache Flats to see if culvert pipes and inlets are of sufficient size, as well as to see if clearing out a channel near Ravenwood Drive would help alleviate problems.
"After we had those heavy rains last spring, we brought to you several items that we're kind of picking off now," Landwehr said. "We've gotten Scherr Driver taken care of and we're working on South Brooks Drive. We're trying to look beyond just these fixes, looking upstream so that work done in the area doesn't adversely affect stormwater."
Also Tuesday, commissioners approved a project to improve stormwater issues on Sharon Drive, which had flooding problems following heavy rains last spring. Public works officials said this would replace a very small stormwater inlet and pipe. The commission awarded a $12,106 contract to Don Schnieders Excavating to do the work.
Commissioners also gave permission for public work officials to contact Three Rivers Electric Cooperative about turning on four street lights on the roundabout on Pioneer Trail Drive near the elementary school. The previous developer was paying the monthly cost of $12.20 per light but quit when he was no longer the owner, and Three Rivers turned them off.
The Pioneer Terrace Homeowner Association asked the county to take over the roundabout lights. Homeland Drive intersects at the roundabout and a future road will be completed and intersect to the west of the roundabout. With increased vehicle and walking traffic in the area due to future development, the homeowners felt the lights would improve safety in the area.
Cole County pays for lighting at the roundabout on Big Horn Drive at Old Lohman and Westview Drive. It's estimated the Pioneer Trail lights will cost $560 a year.