Wednesday, April 27


West-side water flow study reviewed

Stonebridge flood control measures begin at half a million dollars          Send a link to a friend

[APRIL 27, 2005]  A group of residents from Stonebridge subdivision turned to the city of Lincoln last July to ask for whatever help they could get with their flooding problem. It was not their first time to ask, but they have remained persistent in their quest. They asked if the city would at least work with them to find out what it would take to fix it.

The west-side subdivision of higher-priced homes was built in 1994. Unfortunately the homes were built on a natural causeway that catches water runoff from surrounding farm fields and from the Elks golf course.

The subdivision was annexed into the city after it was built. The developer/builder went broke.

Sewer manager Grant Eaton said that the problem has probably escalated for some properties as more homes have been built. "They've changed the profile of that ground," he said. He recalled that when the subdivision first went in, all the manholes were exposed. Now, if there is a sewer problem, they have a difficult time finding some of the manholes because they are buried so deep.

In November Eaton recommended that the city get a flow study done. A flow study is normally the first and necessary step to take before doing any engineering of that type, he said.

The nearly $10,000 flow study was performed by engineering specialists at the request and expense of the city of Lincoln. Joseph Pisula of Donohue and Associates from Champaign presented those results at the city's April 12 meeting. He left copies of the report for aldermen to review, and he returned for the committee's discussion last night.

In his summary Pisula pointed out three plan options, their variables and estimated costs. The first plan uses the same water pathways. The second proposes adding retention walls in the subdivision. And the third directs the storm water around the subdivision from the west to the south.

Pisula said that topographical elevations and ground surface elevations were gathered in preparing the study. The report included satellite photos as well.

The plans include a range of normal to heavier rains. Water magnitudes were calculated using 10-year and 50-year storm rainfall amounts per hour.

The estimates ranged from $446,000 to over a million dollars. The most commonly practiced "rational method" estimated a cost of $492,000. Pisula's recommendation was to choose that plan if further action was going to be taken.

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Pisula cited the flood damage caused by recent hurricanes and quoted a commonly known adage used in the field, "In drainage there is no guarantee of anything."

Sewer chairman Benny Huskins summarized the predominant position of the council, which has remained the same from the beginning, "I still think this is more of a personal matter, not a city matter," he said. He emphasized that he agreed to look into the matter on behalf of the residents because he believes the city should help citizens whenever they can. But in this situation the city is not responsible for the problem. Aldermen Dave Armbrust, Patrick Madigan, Buzz Busby and city attorney Bill Bates agreed.

City treasurer Les Plotner made a suggestion that made a lot of sense to everyone. He asked if this work might affect the future work that is planned to develop Fifth Street.

It will, he was told by the city and Donohue engineers. All of the water from that area, which has been under significant development and could be undergoing much more development soon, flows toward Fifth Street. Additionally, the engineers said, any work done now might even need to be redone when the Fifth Street work is done.

Plotner said that the city will likely seek grants for the Fifth Street road project, and since that subdivision water would also channel the same way, it might be possible to include it in the Fifth Street project at that time.

Mayor Beth Davis and a number of the alderman agreed that this was an excellent suggestion that will be pursued when the time comes.

In light of the costs and the city's current economic position Huskins said, "I recommended that the council not take any action at this time." He said that the city would continue to look at it and look for grant money as development of the area takes place down the line.

The flow study information will be useful since all the water flows toward Fifth Street and the other intended west-side developments, Eaton said.

[Jan Youngquist]

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