Pilot program addresses storm water problems

February 8th, 2007    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

John McManus of the Clermont County Office of Storm Water Management said that a pilot program currently underway has thus far been a success.

That project, an upgrade and replacement to a portion of the Williamsburg storm water system, is expected to be completed by some time this spring.

“There was flooding in the area of Hudson Avenue and Main Street,” said McManus. “One residence in particular got it very bad. The drainage for a fairly large area went into this family’s yard, which is very low and essentially became a detention basin for this flow. It filled up during decent-sized storms. That’s what we wanted to address, but when we got into the design of it, it was a fairly large problem.”

The Clermont County Storm Water Management office is responsible for helping to plan effective ways to alleviate stormwater issues, such as flooding, in areas of the county that currently face a range of water drainage issues. Currently, plans are underway to create a stormwater utility that will collect money for the purpose of upgrading, maintaining and creating storm water infrastructure.

The Williamsburg project was to be the first such project, but ran into a roadblock due to the severity of the problem.

"There was a fairly large pipe running through the front yard, draining a large area," said McManus. "It was an old concrete pipe that was coming apart at the joints, and the ground had eroded to the point where the top third of the pipe was exposed. There were sinkholes all through the yard. In addition to the yard filling up with water during storms, there was all of this to deal with. We thought it would be ideal as a pilot program. When we began to look at possible fixes, we found out the entire system was undersized. If we wanted to do it right, we really needed to replace the whole system, which was beyond the scope of our program."

That, said McManus, led to a partnership with the village that he said was effective and even pleasurable. The combined efforts of the two entities led to a productive team effort.

"We got in touch with the village," said McManus. "It had been the village that brought it to our attention in the first place. We said it was worse than we thought and talked about ways to get it done. It went to the point where the county and village agreed to pitch in funds to get this done. This has worked out very well, it's mostly completed."

McManus said that this project will likely serve as a model for others. The county, he said, is full of old, deteriorating and potentially underdeveloped stormwater systems. Many villages will probably face the same issues, and he hopes that those villages will be as helpful.

"We're really just beginning to understand the scope of the problem in Clermont County," said McManus. "This metal pipe has been used quite a bit in storm drains. These pipes don't last all that long. Over time, the bottom eventually rusts out, and then you get a situation where the water isn't confined by the pipe and begins to run along outside of it. It carries dirt with it, and erodes the soil, and you end up with big void spaces where the pipe used to be and you get a sinkhole. There is a potential for this in lots of areas of the county."

The project will be officially completed when better weather allows the finishing touches to take place, such as reseeding and resurfacing. Otherwise, McManus said that the project should be ready to accept runoff.

"We have replaced and upgraded the storm sewer system along that area, which should eliminate a lot of problems," said McManus. "The system under Main Street, we knew it was undersized. When we got into the project and started excavating, we found that the pipe was corrugated metal. It had rusted to the point where only the top half was left. This was a sinkhole waiting to happen. Nobody was aware of how bad this was, until we got to the point of excavating. The timing was fantastic."

"We were at a standstill until the village of Williamsburg stepped in," added McManus. "They said they wanted it done and they wanted to help. It was a good experience working with Williamsburg."
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