HJ-ED-DHJ

Sept. 4, 2006

Large flood prevention grants awarded to Delano

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Three years of hard work have finally paid off for a residential task force formed after the flooding of 2002, with the announcement of more than $2.3 million in grant funding for flood control.

“The state receives an amount of funding from the federal government to go toward preventing future disasters,” said Delano City Administrator Phil Kern, adding that the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have awarded the city two grants for $830,000.

A separate grant application was also submitted to the state requesting matching funds for the acquisition and demolition of properties in the river floodplain of Highway 12, which was approved for approximately $1.4 million.

“We’re all very proud of our success in the last few months attracting grant dollars to the city to help with flood prevention, which has been a major problem for us historically in Delano,” Kern said.

Following the flooding that occurred in 2002, a citizen task force was formed to review different projects that could be done to minimize flooding in the future.

Upon reviewing different projects proposed by city engineers, the task force recommended four grants be submitted to the state for funding consideration.

“We’ll be able to pursue some good projects that will have a positive impact on many properties that have been flooded or faced flooding in the past,” Kern said.

East side pumping station

When the Crow River is at flood stage, many of the city’s drainage systems become landlocked, it was noted.

In June 2002, the city experienced a glimpse of the potential damage that could be caused by this happening. Rain water is not allowed to flow into the river, which than backs up into the community, flooding properties.

The project calls for the construction of a permanent storm water lift station to pump the water out of town and into the river.

A cost of $875,000 for the project was estimated and submitted to FEMA and the state for consideration, with $656,763 being approved, Kern said. The grant is a 75/25 split, with the state and FEMA covering 75 percent of the cost, and the city matching 25 percent.

Elm Avenue diversion

This smaller project is upstream from the east side pumping station, and will increase the size of drainage pipes from the holding pond to the drainageway in the Stahlke Addition, along the east side of Delano.

Water from the addition area is piped out to a drainageway, and ultimately to the river. In the 2002 flooding, several properties and a few basements in the neighborhood were flooded due to the pipes being unable to handle the large amount of water.

The project, with a projected cost of $225,000, will also be matched 75/25 between the state and FEMA and the city.

The city approved going forward with these two projects, contingent upon review of the city attorney. Work will begin on plans and specifications, with construction taking place in spring/early summer 2007.

Two other projects the city submitted for consideration were not approved, but city staff hopes to be able to continue to work at getting the projects completed over the next few years.

West side pumping station

This proposal is similar to the east side pumping station, but only on the west side of the river, Kern said. The city learned in 2004 that this application would most likely not be approved, so other methods of funding the project were pursued.

As a result, the city received a separate $1.4 million grant from the state to purchase flood-prone properties.

In addition, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), has agreed to fund a substantial portion of this pumping station – including construction administration – when it rebuilds Highway 12 in 2008.

Alley paving

In older areas of Delano, the alleys act as both a means of transportation, as well as a drainageway for rainwater, Kern said. In many areas, the city has struggled with drainage grates filling with gravel and debris, running off from the gravel alleys.

One of the recommendations of the task force was to pave all of the alleys in downtown, and invert them to act as drainage channel.

This project, which would cost approximately $150,000, was not given grant approval, but the city decided it would like to pave some alleys at a time to continue to try to prevent future problems with drainage issues.

“Everybody put their heads together, and worked it out well,” said Mayor Jon Steinmetz, who expressed his appreciation to task force members Dale Graunke, Charles Rieland, Chris Howes, Paul Stansberry, Dick Traen, Ed Matthiese, Leon Zeug, and Steve Hamlin, who has since moved out of state. Council Member Mary Emery was the council representative on the task force.

“We were part of a group that assisted the city in looking at priorities,” commented Traen. “That’s worked out pretty well.”

He said, personally, he has had a vested interest in flood waters for years, as he owns a large piece of property that has been impacted by flooding in the past.

“We’ve had the whole entire area covered in water before,” he said, adding that the goal is to get the water moved into holding and pumped into the river, which will reduce the problems it causes residents.

“The thing that I’m excited about, and also proud of, is that the city got the money,” said Stansberry, who noted that he felt it helped when he contacted politicians' offices to “keep the ball rolling.”

“I think it helped because I’m not an elected official,” he said. He also added that the task force relied on the expertise of Matthiese and Zeug, who are both engineers.

“We relied on them a lot to ask questions we wouldn’t even think of asking,” Stansberry said.

Removing property from floodplain

The city has identified seven properties along the south fork of the Crow River that are located within the 100-year floodplain and have experienced flooding in the past, according to grant application documents.

In 1969, the city constructed a temporary earthen levee between the properties and the Crow River. The levee is not certified by the United States Army Corp of Engineers, and as recently as 2001, required major repair during a flooding event, according to grant application documents.

A breach of the levee would result in complete flooding of all seven properties, along with many others west of the river. When the river rises to flood stage, the temporary levee is the only means of protection for the properties from flooding. Since March 2001, the river has risen to flood stage eight times, according to grant application documents.

In 2004, the city began its efforts to remove properties from the floodplain along the west side of the river. At that time, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources granted the city funds through the Hazard Mitigation Grant program to purchase the property located at 102 Babcock Boulevard.

The property acquisition took place, with the structure bring removed, allowing for additional area for establishing emergency pumping operations during flooding events. The city has removed five properties from the floodplain in the last three years, according to grant application documentation.

The city has initiated discussion with several of the property owners regarding acquisition.

All of the properties are located along the east side of Highway 12 (Babcock Blvd.), south of the intersection with Bridge Avenue and the Burlington Northern Railroad bridge.


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