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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New proposal in works to reduce downtown flooding

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Engineer Eric Dove, at center, introduced his plan to limit flooding at the Monett City Council meeting on Monday. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
A new approach to fixing flooding on Broadway that expands on several previous ideas has been proposed by engineer Eric Dove at the March meeting of the Monett City Council.

Dove, with the Springfield office of Olsson Associates, updated council members on his findings to date. Olsson Associates has been hired by the city to conduct a new flood mitigation study as part of the city's participation in the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) Initiative.

Data from Monett's most significant recent flood, on Sept. 19, 2009, has been recovered from the National Weather Service, as well as previously collected flood information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), whose study in the 1990s led to the plan to build a retention dam east of town.

Dove planned to create a computer model for downtown flooding, using past flooding as a guide. He expected to plug in the location of utilities and other potential obstructions, using the city's geographic information system (GIS).

"From everything I see, we can get a foot or two of relief," Dove said.

Dove pointed directly at the railroad bridges crossing the Kelly Creek drainage channel. According to a chart of flooding elevation, the railroad trestles by the Dairy Farmers of America plant and the main Burlington Northern Santa Fe line block the creek enough to cause the water to rise five to six feet.

Beyond addressing the railroad bridges in some manner, Dove said he is looking at creating a substitute channel for Kelly Creek. Dove's channel would run parallel to the railroad tracks and incorporate the idea first floated in the Drury University Vision 2030 plan of digging out Front Street for storm water. Dove's plan would go farther, extending east to 13th Street.

According to FEMA numbers, Kelly Creek has a capacity to hold 1,500 cubic feet of water per second. A 100-year flood would generate 9,320 cubic feet of water per second. Dove said a bypass channel would have to hold much more water than the current channel to succeed.

The current Kelly Creek channel would not disappear. Dove said the present channel is hooked to city storm drains and would still provide drainage for water coming from the north, especially the storm water that follows the channel south from Monett High School, around Burl Fowler Stadium and down 10th Street. Dove planned to work on a method to carry the storm water coming from out of town to the east to keep it off Broadway.

Under funding guidelines through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, Dove said he has to develop three solutions to Monett's flooding. One option will look at a complete solution. Others will consider steps to reduce the volume of flooding that may be implemented over time.

Dove told The Times he is not looking at creating another paved channel. The kind of structure surrounding Kelly Creek now creates what experts refer to as super-critical flow, extremely fast water that is very dangerous. Similar channels have been built in the Los Angeles, Calif., area, shown in numerous movies. Cars getting stuck in the channels have been known to spike water heights during rains very rapidly.

"Hardly anywhere in the country are they doing a concrete channel anymore," Dove said. "We want something bigger, wider and slower."

Cost will play a major role in what can be done in Monett. Dove cautioned that building a new railroad bridge could cost "millions." He planned to look at relocating utilities, especially the sewer lines that cross the channel, encapsulating the railroad bridge piers in concrete and deepening the channel under the bridges.

Dove said he would be busy for several months. He expected to have a proposal shaped by mid-April, which he would refine to mid-May. Cost estimates would be developed in June and the final project completed in July.

It may not be possible to eliminate flooding downtown, but Dove felt certain his plan could impact the depth of flooding on Broadway by as much as four feet.

"It's the way to go if we can take properties out of the flood plant and not put them in it," City Administrator Dennis Pyle said.

"I'm a certified flood plain manager," Dove said. "I've done this for 17 years. In the end, I can submit for new flood plain maps.

"There's a lot of good to come," Dove added.

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