City Council approves drainage improvement project

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Connor Clark
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

The Looking Glass River is the final destination for flood waters.

The Looking Glass River is the final destination for flood waters.

The environmentally-friendly City of DeWitt, with its extensive parks, trees, and development along the Looking Glass River, now faces an environmental issue of excess flooding.

DeWitt’s City Council unanimously approved a street drainage improvement that will replace old inefficient equipment and introduce new pipes and ditches that will help reduce flooding.

Per DeWitt City Administrator Dan Coss the drainage improvement project is hoping to begin as soon as next week. There is currently no project end date.

The project with be done by Youngstrom Contracting and the amount of the project cannot exceed $50,988.00. The money for the project will be pulled from the Local Street Fund, per City Council agenda. Final budget costs are still in discussion, per Coss.

The Local Street Fund balance was projected to decrease by over $82,000, per City of DeWitt 2015-2016 budget. With the latest addition, DeWitt residents can expect lower revenues but no increase in taxes.

The current sewer pipes flow underneath residential property. With cracks in these pipes, excess rain has led to flooded garages, said Coss.

“In the past, the water would flow down the hill and pool in the catch basin and that would overflow leaving a big puddle in my yard,” DeWitt resident Ronald Huebshman said.

The improvement will take place in two places, the corner of North Bridge and East Madison streets, and along East Dill Drive. Other project cost factors include: traffic control, site restoration, and tree removal, per City Council agenda.

On East Madison Street. the plan is to install a new storm drain, or catch basin, that is two feet deep and add a 160-foot-long storm sewer. Catch basins give water runoff, from roads and houses, a place to go, said DeWitt public service supervisor Rich Miller.

Picture of an original catch basin

Picture of an original catch basin

The major portion of the project will take place on East Dill Drive. First, a new 4-foot catch basin will be installed. Next, over 570 feet across will be dug up to form a ditch along the roadside. The ditch will be 3 feet deep, said Miller, and with wet roads and no guard rails, Coss is certain that cars will remain safe.

“Nothing too deep, not even a Volkswagen would get swallowed up,” Coss said. “We plan on still having our three feet of [road] shoulder that should help out cars.”

Over 100 feet of storm sewer pipes will be added along with 98 feet of culvert pipes. A culvert pipe carries water under a road or driveway, said Miller.

“With all of this additional pipe, we will connect it with our existing pipes, that will eventually lead the water down to the river,” Miller said.

Two resident driveways will have to be cut in order to place the culvert pipe; however, Miller said they have spoken to the current residents several times and the residents are cooperative.

All of these additions are designed to give the excess flood water a path to travel downhill and eventually into the Looking Glass River.

Susan Leeming, a city council member, introduced another idea of adding porous soil to help absorb excess water.

Ronda Strauch, who is an expert of flooding and soil at the University of Washington and who did not attend the meeting, said such an idea makes sense.

“Using porous soils, or even compost, can help control the amount of extra water,” Strauch said. “Vegetation like cottonwood trees, can soak up large amount of water.”

Cost concerns over this soil addition may change the total project price, said Coss.

“Adding addition soil, or even taking the soil removed for the ditch, can be very inexpensive,” Strauch said.

Rainfall in the City of DeWitt is second most in the fall, per rainfall.weatherdb.com. With cooler temperatures on the horizon and a potential for snow, Coss is hopeful that the project will be completed by Thanksgiving.

Green line shows the area of new ditches. Red line shows the culvert pipes, and black line shows the old pipes. Red point marks the new catch basin, while the green point marks the driveway cut ups

Green line shows the area of new ditches. Red line shows the culvert pipes, and black line shows the old pipes. Red point marks the new catch basin, while the green point marks the driveway cut ups

Red Line shows the new pipes while the black lines show the existing pipes. The red point is the new catch basin.

Red Line shows the new pipes while the black lines show the existing pipes. The red point is the new catch basin.

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