Twenty-year plan proposed to reduce Merrillville flooding
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 16, 2014 1:30PM
Updated: August 19, 2014 2:01AM
MERRILLVILLE — Stormwater Utility has presented its 20-year master plan for decreasing the town’s flooding area, placing as a top priority the Meadowdale Lateral watershed on the north end of town.
“This area has the most critical drainage problem,” said Darren Olson, senior project manager for Christopher Burke Engineering in Crown Point, which helped put together the plan.
Olson said the master plan calls for about 30 projects over the two decades at a total cost of $25 million to $35 million. He said more than 340 buildings would be protected.
The next step is to plug the projects into a capital planning process and to seek supplemental funding to help pay for them, such as special taxing districts, grants and cost sharing.
“There’s not enough money in the budget to do the projects,” said Matt Lake, executive director of Stormwater Utility, who noted these are not one-year projects.
Lake said he will go before the Little Calumet River Basin Commission in September to seek funds.
The Meadowdale Lateral watershed — which includes Hickory Ridge Apartments, the Bon Aire subdivision and the 56th and Grant Street area — has 439 buildings, primarily low-density residential, Olson said.
The master plan lists two potential projects — one that costs $3.9 million and would create two retention ponds by the Pruzin Center and create a berm by the apartments, among other measures. Olson said this project would protect 79 properties and create 26.5 acres of water storage area.
An “ultimate” project for the area, he said, would include installation of a large capacity pipe that would transport water from Harrison Middle School to Turkey Creek. This more expansive project would protect 247 homes and would cost $13.9 million, Olson said.
“This area gets quite a bit of water going through there,” said Olson, who showed a photo of Harrison Middle School surrounded by water during the 2008 flood.
“This project would shrink the water inundation there by quite a bit,” he said.
The Kaiser Ditch watershed, which would protect 66 buildings, was given second priority, and Chapel Manor, which would protect 18 buildings, was the third priority under the proposed master plan.
Olson proposed a plan to increase the size of the culverts and add water storage area in the Kaiser Ditch watershed, which encompasses four wards in town. He said some work on Independence Hill’s lift station would be included, for a total estimated cost of $8.8 million.
Chapel Manor, which is more commercial and includes the U.S. 30 corridor, would get some culvert and storm sewer improvements at a cost of $8.7 million, according to Olson.
Councilman Tom Goralczyk, D-3rd, said all the water ultimately runs to Turkey Creek and asked if the flood-relief efforts shouldn’t start there first. Olson said by addressing one watershed at a time, it ultimately will help Turkey Creek.