As Oregon moves ahead with plans to widen Wheeling Street, some on council last week expressed concerns that it would contribute to drainage problems already in the area.
The city has installed temporary flow meters in the sanitary sewer system to help reduce or eliminate excessive storm water, or inflow and infiltration (I&I) from the wastewater collection system.
Significant rainfall sparked I&I issues last July, when several residents complained about flooded basements.
Flow monitoring, video detection and smoke testing help identify inflow and infiltration sources.
Data collected from the meters showed that a lot of I&I throughout the older sections of the city in the Wheeling Street district is a significant source of direct storm inflow into the sanitary sewer.
Councilman Jerry Peach, at a committee of the whole meeting last Monday, asked Public Service Director Paul Roman if there are plans to capture storm water from the widened portions of Wheeling Street.
“If this were a parking lot for any commercial building, we might require a detention pond be built to capture water off the increased impervious surface. Is there anything like that included in the plans of the Wheeling Street widening project?” Peach asked Roman.
A detention pond is not part of the project, said Roman.
“The drainage system for Wheeling – the storm sewer that discharges to the I-280 drainage system – will not change. But we do add more catch basins and do put in a very long consistent storm path throughout the whole project,” said Roman. “Meaning, before there were fragments that had gone down Pickle Road, and we do combine it into one system. Some of the storm sewer does get enlarged, but we don’t put in a detention basin with this project. There is an increase in pavement between I-280 and Pickle. But in terms of the design, it is still required to go through the same storm sewer that discharges out to I-280.”
When Navarre Avenue was widened, an increase in the impervious surface caused rain that had formerly drained into the ground to move into the storm water collection system, said Peach.
“In just the three-and-a-half miles between Lallendorf Road and the eastern city limits, the pavement was widened through which rain would not penetrate - it just moved onto the side,” said Peach.
At a recent Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Lands Committee, residents complained about drainage issues, he said.
“We heard from people who are not only inundated, but who have noted that they’ve been getting more storm water with each event that they hadn’t formerly been exposed to. It’s just gotten worse,” said Peach.
“There is no doubt there were flaws in the Navarre project,” said Roman. Despite that, Roman said 2006 and 2008 were among the top wettest years for the last 127 years, which contributed to the flooding problems.
On Wheeling Street, a 24-inch storm sewer that goes down the abutment at the Wheeling Street Bridge at I-280 will hold the flow back, said Roman.
“If they were to increase that, they would definitely overload the I-280 drainage system. ODOT did not want to allow for that. So it will hold water back through the existing storm sewer. It’s like a parking lot at a shopping center which limits flow through an eight-inch pipe. If they expand the parking lot and do not increase that eight-inch, it is going to hold the flow back. That’s the same concept for Wheeling,” said Roman.
“In the process of doing this project, are we installing new storm sewer alongside the road when it’s done?” asked Councilman Bill Myers, who is chairman of the Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Land Committee.
Roman said the city would be doing that.
“But it all goes to the same 24-inch pipe,” said Roman.
Councilman James Seaman said there was a near freeze on new development years ago because of drainage concerns “until we decided to use more detention and retention ponds.”
“We did have more serious flood problems than we do today,” said Seaman. “This is something we have to balance between development and concerns of storm water. This is something we have to work on. It’s a balancing act because there’s always a clamor for economic development so we can support our city services. But at the same time, it doesn’t make the quality of life good when flooding occurs.”