Chesterton Tribune

Rain gardens urged to help soak up standing water in low areas

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Not every episode of standing water on a residential property following a rain event, even if it takes a few hours to drain away, can be characterized as a drainage problem, let alone flooding.

While some stormwater problems do require maintenance of existing structures or costly construction of new conveyance systems, an easier fix for temporary standing water was proposed Monday by Town of Porter officials.

They suggested residents plant those areas with rain gardens of deep-rooted native plants that soak up stormwater. Additionally, town Public Works superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer said residents could use rain barrels to collect stormwater instead of it washing away from downspouts onto the ground.

The town has cooperated with other agencies before to explain these options, but Brueckheimer said itís time to reinforce the message as the Porter Stormwater Management Board reviews dozens of forms submitted by residents detailing drainage problems.

Porter has a stormwater master plan and conditions in some areas already have been improved.

Others, like Marquette Street where large trees were felled this summer and the swales still to be regraded, are being addressed. Yet a few areas, it was noted Monday, like Munson Ditch will require extensive engineering and inter-agency cooperation --- not to mention money --- to bring about meaningful relief for larger affected areas.

Brueckheimer, town director of engineering Matt Keiser and Stormwater Board president Bill Cantrell took each form received, matching it to a large map of the town, assessing the situation, then brainstorming the best way to address the problem.

Brueckheimer said in some subdivisions property owners have planted trees, built structures, garden features and fences across drainage easements making it difficult to access and maintain them.

In other areas the solution could be as easy as making a curb cut, cleaning drains, opening blocked culverts or extending a curb to channel water in a different direction but there are no guarantees, said Brueckheimer.

Sometimes the reason for a problem is easy to spot. ďIf your house is lower than the road, water runs downhill,Ē observed Cantrell.

Waverly Heights, Porter Beach, Dune Forest, Dune Meadows, East Oak Hill Road, Wagner Hills, Hunters Glen, Porter Cove, Portage Avenue, Beam Street, even downtown Porter --- all were represented by drainage complaints discussed during the meeting.

It was noted what hasnít worked in established subdivisions is apparent now and town officials need to be especially watchful that those problems arenít replicated in new developments.

Keiser also said some of the drainage problems around Indiana 49 and U.S. 20, most notably near Munson Ditch, might be addressed using money pledged by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority for Porterís Gateway to the Indiana Dunes redevelopment project in that area.

Porter is receiving a Lake Michigan Coastal Program grant to purchase land at Munson Ditch so the town can maintain it if Porter County relinquishes jurisdiction over the regulated drain.

Once a comprehensive Munson Ditch project is engineered and completed, said Brueckheimer, ďIt will take care of the whole southeast side of town.Ē



Posted 9/20/2011