Benny Boyd

Water, water everywhere: Where does it all go?

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Oftentimes, the best way to repair the mistakes of the past is to pave right over them.

That seems to be the case, not only on Richland Drive, but in several other neighborhoods around Lockhart. The City has earmarked upwards of $6 million in funds to revamp drainage systems across the community to

ease longtime flooding issues.

“These subdivisions never would have been approved, under our current building standards,” City Manager Vance Rodgers said on Monday. “We don’t approve subdivisions if they haven’t put drainage in place.”

Inadequate drainage has long been a problem in the Richland Drive area, Rodgers said, because when the neighborhood was developed, the homes were built below the street’s grade. With nowhere else to go, the water runs under, and at its worst moments, into the homes in the neighborhood.

However, since ground broke on the $1.1 million drainage project, the pressure seems to have eased.

“It seems to be better already,” Rodgers said. “And our intention is that once we get the project finished it’s going to be much better for the neighbors.”

The main question, though, in engineering this and other project s around town seems to be “where will the water go?”

Quite simply, Rodgers said, the water will go where it’s always gone – it will just go there more slowly.

A retention pond, constructed on land ceded to the City of Lockhart by the Lockhart Independent School District, will collect the water from the Richland Drive area, and restrict its flow to a rate such that the water will flow to Lockhart Springs without flooding other areas.

“According to our city ordinances, when you put in any construction, the rate of flow at the end of construction can’t exceed the rate of flow before the construction,” Rodgers said. “So drainage and retention systems have to be engineered such that they direct the water flow without flooding anything upstream.”

The pond, however, should not be a “breeding ground for mosquitos.”

“If your retention pond is actually holding water for that long, that’s a problem with either engineering or maintenance,” he said. “The ponds are meant to collect and direct the water flow, not to hold it.”

The Richland Drive project is expected to be completed next month.

Similar issues have long been observed on Highway 183, in the heart of the Highway 183 restoration project near South Main Street, and in the Sunset Drive area. Drainage in that area, as well as the south end of Medina Street, are being addressed within Phase 2 of the Highway 183 project, which is intended to direct stormwater underground as it flows south/southeast on its journey toward Plum Creek.

“We are still working with the State on that, because they did the original engineering on the project and didn’t address it correctly,” he said. “[The City of Lockhart] isn’t going to pay to have to take that back to the drawing board and fix it.”

Plans to address the drainage, he said, involve cutting a series of “interceptor ditches” to direct stormwater to the Lockhart Municipal Airport and then on to Clear Fork Plum Creek.

“We’re putting in the underground storm sewers, and those will direct the water flow from South Park, and to the south of WalMart,” Rodgers said.

Again, he said, the system of sewers, ditches and retention areas should control the water flow such that it will not impact properties downstream.

“We hold to the same rules that we hold the developers to,” he said. “And our codes say that you have to have a drainage system. We don’t care what kind of system is used by developers, as long as they have a system in place that matches the rate of flow before impervious cover is added to after the addition of the impervious cover.”

Impervious cover, in fact, has created a problem in the North Town Branch Lockhart Springs since the construction of SH 130 in 2010. Rodgers said improper engineering for the drainage is largely responsible for the springs surging through Tank Town and across the Blanco Street Park and beyond, in recent years.

An upcoming project will address that issue, as well.

“TxDOT is planning a retention pond near the intersection of SH130 and FM2001 to address that,” he said. “And our project on Wichita, Braden and Mesquite Streets will help with that, as well.”

That project will direct the flood flow from the area of the Silent Valley Mobile Home Park into a combination of above-ground and underground storm sewers, eventually piping the water into Town Branch.

“We’re holding neighborhood meetings before we do all these projects not only to make sure that the residents understand what we’re doing, but to make sure that we have a clear picture of what they need,” he said. “So far, those meetings have been very well-received, and residents have been cooperative in working with us to give us what we need to complete the projects.”

Drainage projects in the future include work on Ash, Comal and Pine Streets near South Blanco, on East Walnut and East Market Street, on Old McMahan Road, and on the Courthouse Square.

Follow future editions of the Post-Register for updated information on infrastructure projects within the City of Lockhart.

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