Solution proposed to alleviate city flooding problemsFebruary 27, 2019
By CANDY NEAL
HUNTINGBURG — The city has some areas that have flooding problems when Huntingburg gets a heavy rain event.
Improving the stormwater system will help with those areas. But to adequately cover those ongoing improvements, a stormwater utility should be established, according to Commonwealth Engineers.
The company recommended establishing the utility to the Huntingburg Common Council Tuesday evening. Commonwealth consultant Eric Parsley gave a report on his findings concerning stormwater runoff problems in the city and how they could be remedied.
Parsley recommended establishing the utility with its own manager, ordinance, technical standards, mapping layer on the GIS system and its own utility rate.
Two areas have been identified as problems: one just west and northwest of Huntingburg City Park on the south end of the city, and one just north of the Hunters Crossing subdivision on the north side of the city.
After holding a public meeting in September, Commonwealth received 52 written comments about problem areas, the most being on the city’s south side. Those were entered on a map that was shown at the meeting.
The city is surrounded by drainage basins, ditches, creeks and a floodplain.
“You don’t have anywhere to take the water,” Parsley said. “When water surrounds the city and is flooded, you don’t have anywhere to take the water.”
He added that some areas on the outer fringes of the city, like the problem area north of Hunters Crossing, are flat, which compounds the problem.
Parsley recommended establishing a utility with its own utility rate to fund maintenance and improvements. That would be done by establishing an equivalent residential unit, which is a measurement of impervious areas, or areas where water cannot easily soak into the ground, like roofs and driveways. (Pervious areas are spaces where water can soak into the ground, like lawns.)
Based on measurements, Parsley said 3,100 square feet is the average impervious area of a residential site. He recommended that amount to be one equivalent residential unit, or ERU. He said, as a comparison, the average non-residential site, such as those that include parking lots, equates to seven ERUs.
City officials would determine how stormwater utility rates are determined. Parsley showed the council rates of other nearby communities. Warrick County, which equates 1 ERU to 3,100 square feet, charges $5 per ERU. The City of Jasper, which equates 1 ERU to 5,000 square feet, charges $3.96 per ERU.
Parsley also recommended developing a capital projects plan for stormwater improvements, as well as an ongoing operation and maintenance program for the upkeep of the stormwater system. Currently, the work is being done by the street department, but having a dedicated stormwater utility would free up the street crews and funds for street work, Parsley explained. He also said the city’s GIS mapping system for stormwater mapping will need ongoing updating.
The entire report will be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 18. The meeting will be held in the council chambers, on the second floor of Huntingburg City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.
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