Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy Monday night called an engineering study of the three drainage creeks in Washington conducted by Buescher Frankenberg and Associates (BFA) “good news.”
Dan Boyce, city engineer updated city council members on the study during its administrations/operations committee meeting Monday night.
The city contracted with BFA consulting engineers to re-evaluate three creeks that are a part of the approximate FEMA floodplains map in the city. Creeks studied include the Washington Crossing/Bedford Center Creek, Fifth Street Creek and City Park Creek.
The city decided to restudy the creeks after several properties were moved into the floodplain with the new FEMA map. The restudy evaluated existing hydrologic conditions including the stormwater piping system now a part of the approximate zones.
“The level of engineering was not put into these as was put into the Busch Creek, St. John’s or larger creeks,” said Dan Boyce, city engineer. “They didn’t take into account all the culverts that were put into the ground over the years.”
Boyce reviewed the purpose of the study to city council members.
“The city decided to enlist the help of a consultant to give these creeks the same level of engineering and detail that the larger creeks have, the purpose being to establish the 1 percent flood elevations based on the existing topographic and hydrologic conditions,” he said, adding that the result is more accurate floodplain information. “The hope was that we will be able to remove some structures that have been inadvertently included in the floodplain.”
Boyce said that more than 35 property owners along the Fifth Street Creek will be impacted by the engineering study, but was unsure of the number impacted by the other two creeks.
He reiterated that not every structure will be removed from the flood plain.
“Some are too close to call,” he said, noting that the deciding factor will be dependent on survey shots property owners have the option of pursuing.
If a property owner’s insurance company or mortgage lender requests the status of the FEMA floodplain, in order to respond, property owners have the option of getting a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA).
Two factors are used to determine if a property is in the floodplain; the property’s lowest adjacent grade surrounding the residence and the elevation of the 1 percent flood zone. To obtain the information, residents would have to have a survey study done.
Owners could pursue that option if their property or structure is identified as in a floodplain and they want to make a definite determination.
“We’re talking about tenths of a foot — (as to whether) they are in or out,” Boyce said. “Some (institutions) will look at the map and err on side of caution by putting it in the floodplain.”
Some property owners have already gone forward with their own study to make the determination, he said.
Now that the engineering study is complete, the city must provide a public notification of impending change to property owners. Notifications will be on the city website, ci.washington.mo.us, printed in The Missourian and mailed to owners, Boyce said.
Current FEMA maps also are available online. Boyce said the BFA maps will be added as well.
Boyce said he expects FEMA to take approximately 90 days to review and accept the study. The map, he said, will not physically change, but an addendum will be added to recognize the changes.
‘Money Well Spent’
Council members agreed that the study was beneficial to both the city and residents.
“In essence, by spending the money the city did on these studies, we certainly were able to help residents,” said Mayor Sandy Lucy.
“I think it’s money well spent,” Boyce said. “A lot of people will be better off that than they were before and I don’t think anyone will be hurt.”
Boyce noted that the city can use the study to regulate development within the floodplain. Property owners will be able to utilize the new 1 percent flood elevations for insurance or mortgage purposes.