Thu, April 02

Flooding solution proposed

Although a relatively dry winter makes flood threats seem like a distant memory, Middle Verde property owners and the Town of Camp Verde heard long-awaited flooding solutions on Thursday night.

The water research, conducted with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was prompted by a powerful September 1999 storm that overflowed roadways and endangered homes.

"We've been working on it for probably about a year now," said Town Manager John Roberts, who represented the Town of Camp Verde on this project.

Although the Middle Verde area was annexed by the town, some residents still distrust town officials' involvement.

"We have a design study that we think proposes possible solutions," Roberts told the assembled crowd.

The Corps was authorized only 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.

"We were in the field four times and identified five problem areas," said Scott Ogden of the hydrology company. His group divided the area geographically and identified large sections of "100-year" flood plains.

The 1999 storm was described by researchers as a deluge that was statistically improbable, and therefore unlikely to repeat itself soon. That did not calm the fears of residents, however, many of whom have since constructed dikes or retaining walls near their homes.

"This was an extreme event," Ogden said. "It has a low probability of recurrence."

The plans that the army corps drew up could finally help residents in that section of town solve a runoff problem that seems to threaten with each summer monsoon. In the past, the problem has been 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.

Whatever the cause, posited solutions mainly include expanding existing washes to hold more water and constructing new runoff channels to keep water off the road.

"We want to improve culvert capacity so that we have less flows topping over the road," said Ogden after the meeting. "We also suggested constructing minor channels upstream and downstream."

A large audience at the Community Church of God on Middle Verde Road listened to the plans. 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.

Each improvement in the five designated areas had a different cost estimate, ranging from small improvements of about $120,000 to regional channels and culverts of up to $1 million. Roberts said he estimates a $2 million to $3 million price tag for significant drainage improvements, including easements through neighborhoods to get the water down to the river.

The drainage study cost about $67,000. Half that amount was contributed by the Army Corps, and the remaining amount was split evenly between the town and the county.

"It helped the residents understand the size of the problem," Ogden said after the meeting. "It's a larger scale, regional issue."

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