Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

County drainage effort moves from study to action to fix trouble spots

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The heads of the countywide comprehensive drainage study have been able to pinpoint four major priority areas where flooding has been a great concern, including the Damon Run watershed.

Drainage Project Manager Dave Burrus, who also serves as president of the county’s drainage board, and Mike Jabo of DLZ Indiana, one of the two firms hired by the county as consultants for the project, told the Porter County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday the study so far has found more isolated areas in the Damon Run watershed particularly around Swanson Lamporte ditch, the Duck Creek watershed, the South Haven area, and the Lake Eliza area in Porter Twp.

The priority areas surfaced after the drainage project committee and consulting firms conducted discussions with various Porter County municipalities, town engineers, and county departments who deal with drainage issues.

Burrus said from these meetings, 80 drainage issues have been identified. He presented the commissioners with a memorandum listing 59 issues that have been classified as “immediate action items” requiring the greatest attention. The project team listed the location of those 59 sites as well as possible causes associated with the issue and potential actions or long-term solutions.

Damon Run watershed area had been ranked highest priority of those 59 sites based on the number of residents affected, the frequency of the flooding and the potential area impacted by development. The memo lists removing vegetative debris from specific locations like areas of the watershed adjacent to Meridian Rd. and CR 100W as potential immediate actions.

There is no consensus yet from Damon Run constituents as to how stormwater should be managed. A potential long-term action may be to conduct a site reconnaissance of the Damon Run between Salt Creek and Ind. 49.

Burrus said a handful of the 59 projects could be handled by the county itself like a simple drain or tile solution but a majority of the projects would require very detailed engineering work to be done by outside firms.

Burrus said the county drainage board is ready to move ahead on five locations that can be managed without outside help, two of which came from feedback on the drainage study.

The county will team with Chesterton to replace nearly a mile of legal drain located on right side of Gustafson Ditch near the CR 1050N and CR 200W intersection in Liberty Twp. where flooding frequently occurs. The older 18-inch sewer pipe broken up by tree roots will be replaced with a 24-inch sewer pipe and will feature manholes every 350 feet along CR 200W to better catch storm water.

An inlet structure will be used at all four corners of the CR 1050N intersection as a catch basin, Burrus said.

The town of Chesterton has agreed to allocate $50,000 in participation for the improvements.

Next on the list, the county will be looking to address two to three feet of flooding at Sturdy Rd. viaduct beneath the Norfolk and Southern R.R. north of CR 100N in Center Twp. by removing an earthen obstruction located along the nearby Smith Ditch.

The remaining three flooding solution projects the county is looking into are CR 100W along the Sylvan Manor subdivision in Center Twp., CR 275S intersection near the Lakes of the Four Seasons subdivision in Porter Township, and also Arm 3 of the Ludington Drain near the CR 500W intersection in Porter Township where plans are to expand the detention pond near the vicinity of Boone Grove High School.

Burrus also mentioned that growth and development along U.S. 6 has created high priority areas for the drainage study.

Jabo said of the 27,000 questionnaires mailed by the county in March to the unincorporated areas, nearly 1,600 came back with input. However, the majority of the questionnaires listed no problems.

A series of forums were also set up to collect input with almost 300 residents showing up. Those conducting the drainage study will continue to read through the public responses that may point out additional priority areas.

DLZ will present the commissioners with a map showing them the concentrated areas where drainage problems occur at their next meeting on July 20.

The study is currently in its first phase which is expected to continue through fall. The next phase will be coming up with further solutions which may include enactment of new ordinances.

Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, said the responses have shown residents are eager for the projects to move along after years of waiting for the county to take action to solve drainage problems countywide.

“This is really going to benefit (the county),” said Evans.

Porter County Commissioner President Robert Harper, D-Center, and fellow commissioner Carole Knoblock, D-South, echoed Evans’ enthusiasm. All three commissioners approved $475,000 to the five projects out of the county’s cable fund, not including the $50,000 that will be provided by Chesterton.

“It’s amazing how this is coming together and how quick it has come together,” said Harper.

Repair work may start in the fall once DLZ can finalize the drawings.

Knoblock gave kudos to Burrus and also the county highway department for some of the restoration work done in the southern part of the county that has helped farmers.

Burrus said the responses have all been very positive, with only a small undercurrent of apprehension from some who speculate the drainage issues will not be attended to very quickly.

Jabo said it is important to get public input to see where drainage tiles are because some of the older tiles scattered throughout the county that were implemented generally for agricultural purposes are not on file at the county administration building.

The county will also be receiving the aerial topography photographs that were taken from the air by GRW Engineers last in April. The pictures captured through the use of LIDAR technology are expected in September.

 

 

Posted 7/7/2010

 

 

 

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