Though most Columbia County residents might be clamoring for a good rain soaking this summer, Michael O'Grady will be happy for the thunderstorms to wait a few months.
Stevens Creek Road was closed at the Reed Creek
crossing because of high water in March 2003.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
O'Grady, who lives on West Lake Drive in Martinez, has low-lying property in the West Lake subdivision that has been seriously flooded four times since 1990.
That year, when massive flooding affected numerous areas in Richmond and Columbia counties, water from the Reed Creek basin rose to O'Grady's second floor. Other times since have been less dramatic, but he has still had to replace water-logged carpet and step out onto a boggy yard.
"The next time the house gets flooded, the insurance company's not going to pay for it," the mechanical engineer said. "They're going to condemn it."
For years, O'Grady has talked with county officials about making drainage improvements to the Reed Creek drainage basin, including clearing overgrowth in the creek's diversion canal near Stevens Creek Road and emptying out a roadside pond in preparation for inclement weather.
An upcoming $3.7 million project is expected to help with the flooding problem that also has caused a portion of Stevens Creek Road to be closed when it becomes submerged.
The last time it was closed was in March of last year.
County officials have awarded a contract to widen the diversion canal, which is now between 5 and 25 feet, to 40 feet from the Stevens Creek water pollution control plant to near the Augusta Canal.
The work also will include raising Stevens Creek Road 9 feet to allow more drainage room where the creek crosses underneath near the plant and elevate it over the wet ground.
The road work will result in an estimated four to five month closing of Stevens Creek Road sometime this year.
"That's the maximum we'll allow the contractors," County Engineer Jim Leiper said.
He said the entire project, including the 4,440 feet of the diversion canal, is expected to be finished by March 31.
About 75 percent of the contract, awarded to Lewis Trucking, is being paid for through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We're (the county) kicking in a little over a million dollars," Leiper said. He said the county was notified in the late 90s that the federal money would be available after the basin flooded in 1994 and the county submitted a study of the impact development has had water runoff in the basin.
"The diversion canal is too small," Leiper said. "That was built by Martin Marietta, back in I think it was the 80s, to divert Reed Creek around their quarry. They dug the diversion canal and with increased flow rates from development and with the standards at the time not being quite high enough to ensure long-term capacity, the diversion canal causes backups across Stevens Creek Road."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.