City of West Plains awarded grant for first water detention basin

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- The City of West Plains was recently awarded a grant that will pay for the construction of the city's first storm water detention basin.

Studies show the basin will help keep flood waters in check in case of another 100-year-flood event.

A Community Development Block Grant in the amount of just over $764,000 was awarded to the city for the first basin at the North Fork of Howell Creek.

"It would start up here at the high point and it would come all the way across, running 930 feet and it would be approximately 18 feet tall," storm water coordinator Trent Courtney told KY3.

The new basin will have a detained water surface area of 32 acres.

The detention basin is designed to decrease the flow rate of water traveling down the creeks.

That's what led to the historic flooding in April; too much water flowing to the same areas, causing water levels to rise at unheard of rates.

Studies show the North Fork basin will decrease the flow rate by 48% for the first mile of the creek and even decrease flow rate further into town by around 30%.

"On a normal rain event, you wouldn't see any difference. But on a larger scale rain event, like something we saw in April, that's where this system will take effect. It will change the flow rates throughout town and throughout the first mile for this one specifically for this one, at about 48%," Courtney added.

By having the new basin, an area of 16 acres around the creek, which now is designated a flood plain, will then be removed from the flood plain.

Bob Pekarek lives in that area.

"I think it's terrific. It will take us out of the flood zone. Of course flood insurance goes up every year. This will be a big savings for us as far as money saved on flood insurance. Also the protection; a home is a big investment and you just don't want it to go under water," Pekarek said.

However, a Storm Water Evaluation and Management Planning Study performed by an engineering company, determined the addition of four detention basins will likely, "resolve numerous identified problem areas as well as significantly reduce the frequency of flooding to existing infrastructure."

The city is working on securing grants for the other three.

"The other three basins are in our primary drainage areas; you've got Galloway, there's Burton and then there's the South Fork," Courtney exclaimed.

The other positive; building the basins means the city won't have to spend upwards of $9 million replacing bridges, culverts and other infrastructure to help alleviate flooding.

"You've got bridges that are undersized. You've got culverts that are undersized. By building these, what happens is, all the sudden the ones that were undersized, they're all the sudden not undersized anymore. They can handle a 25-year-event or 50-year-event," Courtney explained.