Springfield city officials say some major stormwater projects for the Jordan Creek watershed are ready to be built if Congress provides funds for them. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already approved Springfield's plans for the projects, which are estimated to cost about $21 million, after a study of flood damage in the city over a nine-year period.
If the appropriation comes through, federal funds would cover about two-thirds of the cost. Local funds would cover the rest. The City and the Corps estimate the project could save $1 million annually in cleanup costs and repairs caused by flooding along Jordan Creek.
A city spokeswoman says the federal Water Resources Reform and Development Act gave the Corps the authorization to approve the stormwater flood control projects in Springfield and other urban areas. When federal funds might be available to Springfield isn't certain, if Congress provides the needed appropriation for the Act. The federal fiscal year starts in October, but Congress often funds the government for only a few months at a time instead of for the whole year.
Here's a news release from the City of Springfield on Thursday morning:
Federal legislation to boost infrastructure for water resources includes significant funding for needed stormwater flood control in Springfield.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) includes a $20.86 million authorization making the Springfield Jordan Creek Watershed project eligible for funding. If appropriated, $14 million would come from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and $7 million in cash, services, or in-kind hours would come from a local match. Local match resources may come from the City of Springfield and other local sources.
The project area includes two locations: Wilson’s Creek, east of Scenic Avenue to Jordan Creek, north of Bennett Street; and east of Glenstone Avenue between Chestnut Expressway and Kearney Street.
Funded projects include:
• Constructing five detention basins in the upper Jordan Creek Watershed in northeast Springfield that would provide about 165 acre-feet of flood storage volume and reduce downstream flooding throughout the length of Jordan Creek.
The basins will reduce flood flows downstream along both the north and south branches of the Jordan and the lower Jordan. This includes residential, commercial and industrial areas including downtown.
• Increasing the level of flood protection at the Euticals plant by raising a section of Bennett Street west of Kansas Expressway.
A low section of Bennett street contributes to the potential for flooding inside the plant. Raising the road in combination with the other improvements to the channel increases the protection of the plant up to a 500-year level.
• Enlarging about 2,100 feet of Jordan Creek from upstream of Bennett Street to upstream of Scenic Avenue
• Modifying a railroad bridge adjacent to the Euticals plant to increase its flood-carrying capacity
• Constructing a diversion structure upstream of Bennett Street to protect the plant
When completed, this series of projects in Springfield is projected to save $1 million annually by preventing flood damages in the area. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this proposal of projects was selected over others because it had the potential for the highest cost-to-benefit ratio. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did an extensive economic analysis of the benefits and costs of multiple alternatives as part of a feasibility study performed with the City of Springfield from 2005 to 2013.
The project funding by this bill is part of a bigger, multi-phase initiative (“Renew Jordan Creek”) to address flooding and water quality throughout the entire watershed. Renew Jordan Creek aims to reduce the frequency and magnitude of flooding along Jordan Creek, restore ecological function of the Jordan Creek riparian corridor and provide a range of urban and rural landscapes and recreational opportunities. Bringing many acres of land out of the floodplain will also enhance the potential for economic development.
It is not uncommon for cities to experience stormwater problems that result in property damages, flooded roadways and compromised water quality. Stormwater runoff associated with urban development is an issue facing communities across the country and one that often carries a hefty price tag to address.
Cities are faced with the need to invest in their stormwater systems in order to meet regulatory requirements and to protect water quality. But, these mandates often have no identified funding source.
The City of Springfield and Greene County take stormwater management seriously and for five years had a Springfield-Greene County Parks/Stormwater Sales Tax to fund projects that improved water quality and access to lakes, streams and waterways in public parks. Those projects include enhancements at Nathanael Greene / Close Memorial Park, Doling Lake and Waterway; Sequiota Park; Fassnight Park and Dickerson Park Zoo.
The City is currently working on the final project funded by that 2006 tax, which sunset in June 2012. Since that time, neither the City nor the County has a dedicated funding source to address stormwater expenses.
To help address a variety of challenges, a group of 30 representing a variety of interests worked for six months on a Citizens’ Stormwater Management Task Force, analyzing the community’s water quality/unfunded mandates, flood risk and aging infrastructure.
Recognizing that stormwater becomes drinking water, the group included engineers and business owners, environmental advocates and ordinary citizens. Dan Hoy, Facilities Manager, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, served as co-chair for the group.
“Stormwater management and pollution prevention is a public obligation of intrinsic value to every citizen,” Hoy explained. “Clean drinking water and modern management systems are critical for public health and safety, strong local businesses, population growth, and clean waterways.”
The group came up with a conservative recommendation to potentially fund water quality programs, flood risk reduction projects and infrastructure life cycle repair/replacement programs with a county-wide 1/10 of one percent sales tax as a permanent, dedicated funding source to cover ongoing operating expenses and a sun setting 1/8-cent sales tax to be utilized for capital projects for system repair / replacement and to address additional looming environmental regulations.
Meanwhile, the City has already applied $90 million in stormwater management over the past 18 years.
Recent improvements to Jordan Creek include: $2.2 million in creek daylighting and restoration; $2 million in Brownfields cleanup and floodplain restoration, $3 million in property acquisition and $1 million in bridge replacement. These are small pieces of a bigger plan to address problems across the entire Jordan Creek Watershed.