Chesterton Tribune



County stormwater board hears the costs of coping with record floods

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The Porter County Storm Water Management Board approved at its meeting Tuesday $13,182.50 in claims for emergency response to a “flood of record,” with more claims expected to come.

County Engineer Novotney brought the claims for work done by his department before the Board. He said, “This was a flood of record, just looking back at the USGS gauges.” The Kankakee River topped record flood stage heights in excess of 13 feet at several gauges across Lake and Porter counties.

Novotney said the gauge near Ind. 49 didn’t show a record level but only because “The river broke out of its banks in a couple places.”

The damage includes ditch bank erosion, culvert washouts, and washouts on the banks of the Kankakee and on several ditches fed by it. One bridge is in complete failure, and another has significant scour damage.

Novotney reported that 10 emergency repair projects have been completed and a lot of work is ahead for his department, both assessing remaining damage and making repairs: “We’ve still got spring rains ahead of us, so our mission is to do what we can to patch up what we’ve seen and get the infrastructure back in working position before the rainy season begins.”

Communication among departments went smoothly as everyone worked to respond to the flooding, according to Novotney, and he especially thanked Emergency Management Director Lance Bella and the EMA staff. Commissioners Jeff Good, R-Center, and Laura Blaney, D-South, said this flooding event was a reality check. “I learned quite a few things in this event. I think we all have, and we’ll be better prepared next time,” Good said. Blaney said, “Everybody came together and did a great job,” and Good agreed.

The $13,182.50 in claims were: $6,800 for Ludington Ditch, $412.50 for Cobb Ditch, $420 for Cook-Dahl Ditch, $2,190 for Marble-Powers Ditch, and $3,360 for Phillips Ditch.

Other Business

In other business, the Board approved reductions in stormwater system fees for two new parcels acquired by Shirley Heinze Land Trust.

There are plans to build a public kayak launch on the first parcel, south of Brummit Elementary School on Temper Ditch. However, that parcel isn’t connected to any of the Trust’s active preserves, and Novotney said public access must be improved before the conservation stormwater system fee rate of $1.40 per acre per year applies. He recommended switching to the agricultural rate of $2.75 per acre per year as a compromise--a move that will reduce Shirley Heinz’s current rate by about half.

Novotney said the County has given similar compromises to organizations like the Izaak Walton League in the past. “Once they add signage and have more regular public access, they can come back and request that fully reduced rate,” he added.

The second new parcel is an addition to the Trust’s Meadowbrook Nature Preserve, for which the conservation rate was previously acquired. Novotney recommended and the Board approved applying the conservation rate to the new addition.

The Board also renewed its annual maintenance services agreement with Satoski Brothers.


Posted 3/14/2018




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