Locals pitch flood control

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Basins in areas around Cassville may prevent major floods

After Cassville and most surrounding areas took on between 5-7 inches of rain on July 7, leading to flooding in the city, flood mitigation has been a topic of discussion among area residents.

Jon Horner, Cassville alderman, said he would like to see retention basins built on properties around town, which would act as holding areas for excess water that could potentially flood the city.

"What would mitigate the flooding significantly is building three retention basins on the perimeter of Cassville," he said. "There would be one west of Cassville for Troublesome Branch, one to the southwest for Flat Creek and on due south of the Aquatic Park for Brock Branch."

Horner said he would also look into expanding the basin near the Barry County Museum, which catches water coming from Horner Branch, built around 2007 by Jerry Watley.

"We would have had two major flooding events because we had the monsoon in the third week of June," Horner said. "The primary reason we only had one flood [on July 7], was because of Jerry's basin. But, it was full on July 7."

Cherry Warren, Barry County commissioner, said funding for such a project would be the issue, and the idea has been brought up in the past.

"We looked at this about 20-30 years ago, but when you go to build a retention basin, you've got to have a draw-down to move that water out. It would also cost a lot of money."

Warren said officials could meet with landowners living along the seven valleys coming into Cassville, but structures that would hold large amounts of water would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"If the city government came up with a plan, the county would look at it," he said. But, the county doesn't have funding available for that, and I don't know if any grants would be available. This city has been here a long time, and nothing has stopped [the flooding] yet."

Doug Edwards of Cassville, who owns 87 acres of conservation land southeast of Cassville off Farm Road 2180, said he has a 0.7-acre pond on one side of Flat Creek, and a four-acre basin on the other side, which he said helps mitigate some of the runoff coming into Cassville.

"The four-acre catch basin is three feet deep and holds about four million gallons of water," he said. "When we have a big downpour, it fills up real quick."

Edwards said if property owners in the area built about six more of those basins, enough water would be caught to keep the city from flooding in most cases.

"The [Missouri Department of] Conservation talked about it a year-and-a-half or two years ago, but plans fell apart," he said. "A lot of people lost a lot of money or spent a lot of money because of flooding.

"Of course, landowners would have to give up four acres of land, but I'm sure a lot of people have areas near Flat Creek that are not good for grazing."

Edwards also said planting 5,700 trees on his property prevented a fair amount of debris from being carried into the city.

"I have 47 varieties of trees on the property along the creek that blocked debris," he said. "If we can build enough basins, people will not even know it was raining hard, at least in this branch."

Warren said Cassville was fortunate not all the valleys brought water in at once on July 7, as that flood mainly came from the south, and the less-vast flooding on July 9 came from the Exeter area to the west.

"If all that had flooded at once, it would have been worse," he said. "It would be up to the landowners whether to build the [retention basin] structures, and we are talking about lots of dollars. I don't want to say it can't be done, but it's a big project."

Horner said he is not sure where funding would come from yet either, as any future projects are in the brainstorming phase right now.

"We are in the infancy stages of brainstorming on this project, and farmers would retain the property, and the city or county would have to obtain a funding source for construction," he said. "I think we'll discuss this at the next city council meeting and then try to figure out other ways to engage community, state and federal government leaders to make it happen.

"Floods come and go, and water dries up, and the attention goes back to somewhere else. I hope we can maintain our attention on mitigating theses water problems."

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