Council approves flooding fix
A flooding solution proposed in mid-March was accepted last week by town leaders, who voted to construct a system of channels in response to severe flooding in the Middle Verde area.
The project would cost roughly $2.5 million in total, and Town Manager John Roberts said the town would be responsible for most of that cost.
The proposed system of channels could take up to seven years to complete, although road access improvements in the area could be only three years off, according to Roberts.
"The council turned down the idea of a dam," Roberts said after the meeting. "It will instead be a series of small subdivision drainage improvements and local channels. They would move water from the top of the subdivision down through the subdivision."
He continued, "We're planning to relocate a portion of Middle Verde road and use that as a dike. The road would act as a levee."
Middle Verde property owners eagerly awaited flooding solutions. Research into the subject, conducted with the help of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, was prompted by a powerful September 1999 storm that overflowed roadways and endangered homes.
The military group was only authorized to research the problem and propose solutions, not to engage in construction. Independent contractors J.E. Fuller & Associates, of Tempe, conducted the field research necessary for the Army plans.
The 1999 storm was described by researchers as a deluge that was statistically improbable, and therefore unlikely to repeat itself soon. That has not calmed the fears of residents, however, many of whom have since constructed dikes or retaining walls near their homes.
When addressing the council last week, Roberts said, "It was estimated to be a 500-year event. The good news is that it probably won't happen again."
In the past, the problem was partly blamed on the removal of a dike there years ago. Many residents maintain that a diversion dike located on U.S. Forest Service land behind Middle Verde Road near Forest Service Road 119A was either torn down or collapsed, escalating flooding conditions.
People living in the Middle Verde area, an area west of Interstate 17 that includes the El Rancho and Overlook Acres Subdivisions, the Yavapai-Apache Nation's Reservation and Middle Verde Road, have experienced flooding problems during heavy rainstorms. The flooding caused extensive damage, both structurally and to land, and repair costs were estimated in 1999 to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Roberts told the council last Wednesday: "I am not very optimistic we're going to see significant federal assistance." He added that the town might contact the Yavapai-Apache Nation when seeking funds to pay for the project.
"I anticipate we will be working with them to get some funds," Roberts said, adding cautiously that he does not expect the nation to take on the entire cost of the multi-million-dollar project. "We don't expect them to foot the bill," he said.