City staff will recommend moving forward in January with a study of three creeks that might result in a more accurate depiction of floodplain conditions in certain areas in Washington.
City Engineer Dan Boyce told The Missourian that the city is looking to proceed with Buescher-Frankenberg Associates (BFA), one of four firms that the city requested proposals from for the study.
In addition to BFA, city staff interviewed Washington Engineering and Architecture and Cochran Engineering and Surveying. Boyce said the city asked for a proposal from Wunderlich Surveying and Engineering, but the company was not interested.
Boyce said the study, if approved by the council, would look at three creeks — Fifth Street Creek, City Park Creek and an unnamed creek that is now piped under the property where Schnucks is located.
During the discussion earlier this year to adopt a new federal floodplain study and flood insurance rate maps for the city, property owners near these creeks asked the city to re-evaluate these areas.
Portions of the three small creeks have been piped underground and revised elevations could result in some property being moved out of the flood zone.
The restudy will evaluate all existing hydrologic conditions including the stormwater piping system that is now a part of the approximate zones, Boyce explained.
Discuss Busch Creek
When the council approved the new maps and study in September, several property owners along West Eighth Street, east and west of Jefferson Street, expressed concern over being included in the new floodplain.
City Administrator Jim Briggs noted that the city commissioned a study of the Busch Creek watershed area a number of years ago.
That study found that even with large, multiple detention facilities, the stormwater levels would be reduced by only a minimal amount.
Briggs said that plan was presented to the city council but it was not deemed cost-effective for the amount of water detained.
Another problem, Briggs noted, is that the areas where detention facilities are needed are privately owned and outside the city limits.
At the Nov. 28 administration/operations committee meeting, Briggs showed a report that a storage facility of about 132-acre feet, or 132 acres that are 1 foot deep, is needed to store water upstream “just to keep the creek within its bank” between Locust and Jefferson streets.
Briggs noted that the calculations, which are based on a 30-minute storm duration, are only estimates.
He said if a solution is found, it could save some property owners from purchasing flood insurance, but that building a detention pond may not help certain properties.
Councilman Carolyn Witt said the council should be proactive and recalled that many people in that area were upset about being included in the new floodplain.
Briggs said there is money in the stormwater management fund to develop detention facilities.
The city can acquire land outside of the city limits for stormwater management, according to City Counselor Mark Piontek.
Councilman Tim Brinker said there still are a lot of unanswered questions and noted the city does not have the room in the city limits currently for a detention facility.
The council agreed to continue discussing the issue at its January administration/operations committee meeting.
“This is going to be a big decision,” Mayor Sandy Lucy said.