Thursday, October 16, 2003

Culverts blamed in sudden floods

Butler engineer says age makes them inefficient; funds sought for fixes

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Residents' complaints about sudden flooding in previously dry areas has led to a potentially costly discovery: Several culverts in Brookside Estates may need replacing soon - for some $1 million.

Planned in the 1960s and early 1970s, the culverts are crumbling with old age, so their ability to carry water has been reduced, trustees were told late Tuesday by an official from the Butler County Engineer's Office.

The culverts, along streets such as Brookdale Drive, Monticello Drive and Shenandoah Court, never were designed to carry as much water as they have had to in recent storms, said Denny Krall, an engineering deputy with the engineer's office.

The culverts on Shenandoah, however, were replaced after floods in 2001 and still aren't adequate, residents pointed out.

Donna Nicol says she is concerned that if existing culverts are removed and replaced with bridges, a couple of homes will be destroyed from the force of water that would then gush through. Bridges could be used if bigger openings were needed to handle water flow.

"When they replaced the Shenandoah culvert ... it had been deteriorating and needed to be replaced. The one on Monticello should have also been addressed at that time but wasn't," said Nicol, who has lived on Shenandoah 32 years.

"My concern as a resident is that they determine where or why all of a sudden two times in the last two years we've had a major problem."

A culvert is a drainage pipe that runs under roads, carrying storm water runoff.

It is unsure at this point whether the township, Butler County and/or landowners will pay to replace the culverts, which may need to be replaced with either larger culverts or bridges.

"The county is technically in charge of all culverts but the county does not have the money to replace all these aging culverts all over the county," Trustee Catherine Stoker said. The discovery underscores the importance, she said, of the township continuing, with the Butler County Engineer's Office, to look into why these older areas are flooding and make sure storm water runoff is properly handled.

Last month, residents appeared before trustees to complain about "devastating" flooding over the last four years in their neighborhoods on Cox Road, Monticello Drive, Esther Drive, Taffy Drive and Butler- Warren Road.

These are older areas that previously haven't flooded as often and as much as they are now, residents say. A few of the neighbors have even shown trustees pictures depicting several feet of water in their homes.

Some residents blame new development, not poor culverts, for their flooding woes and are calling for more urban zoning standards.

The Butler County Engineer's Office has sent the owner of the strip plaza, Union Towne Centre, a letter asking him to clean a retention basin overgrown with weeds and bring in soil to raise the elevation of a bank around the basin to help protect houses on Esther from future water problems.


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