Source: Sherman Publications

Drain Commissioner eyes village- owned culvert as flooding culprit
Wheelock & Watkins Drain project addressed at meeting

by David Fleet

August 14, 2013

Goodrich-A 6-inch culvert has been identified as a possible factor in flooding some village homes and businesses.

Despite several heated exchanges during the Goodrich Village Council meeting on Monday night, Jeff Wright, Genesee County Drain Commissioner, expressed his opinion of the causes of numerous flooded basements in the village and the prognosis for future drainage demands.

Wright identified nine drains under the jurisdiction of the village and emphasized a 6-inch diameter culvert under Ridge Road that connects the Goodrich Country Club Golf Course pond to the Mill Pond, which allegedly has prompted flooding over the last few years.

“I believe the culvert is a major factor in the flooding—there’s no sense in rebuilding the Wheelock & Watkins Drain until that issue is addressed first,” he said. “The Mill Pond is contributing to the flooding when the water flows the wrong way at a certain level.”

The Wheelock & Watkins Drain is an agricultural drain, built in 1897 and which encompasses a large section of the village, impacting about 100 residents. The old drain under the jurisdiction of Genesee County has been one possible cause of flooding of several residents’ homes.

Last year petitions were signed and in a special meeting on April 9 at the village offices, a board of determination voted 3-0 to move forward an upgrade to the Wheelock and Watkins drain.

Since then, a study and extensive survey of the impacted drain area to provide possible solutions is ongoing, say county officials. The engineering firm of Fleis and Vandenbrink is currently conducting the study. The engineering process will also allow for feedback from the public and input from the Genesee County Drain Commissioner. Wright addressed questions regarding the project.

“The drain commission has no other source of revenue other than from a special assessment,” he said. “The percentage of how much is owned by the residents on the project will be determined. There will be bids on the project and the costs will be mailed out to the residents. At that point they can come to the office and discuss the costs. There will be one more hearing on the drain.”

As the Wheelock & Watkins Drain project moves forward, Wright encouraged the village to work on their drains, too, including blocking the Ridge Road culvert altogether or installing a valve to not allow the water to flow back to the golf course from the Mill Pond.

Wright also suggested that development in the Ortonville area, up stream on the Kearsley Creek from Goodrich, has also contributed to the flooding.

“There’s a lack of retention and detention of water between Ortonville and Goodrich,” he said.

A detention pond is dry until a storm or heavy rain occurs then fills up, compared to a detention pond that is full even in the dry seasons.

“But, there’s more than water coming from Ortonville,” he added. “They (Ortonville) have a consent order for sewers—it may take an injunction on Ortonville. It impacts everyone all the way up to the Holly Reservoir in the Flint area where Kearsley Creek ends.”

John Lyons, Ortonville village manager, was contacted after the village meeting regarding the consent order. He was not aware of the document regarding a sewer system.

“We are currently pursuing construction of sewers in the village, project plans should be completed by mid-October and ready for public hearing and comment in February 2014. The sewer project has a preliminary discharge permit from the MDEQ and currently Rowe Engineering Inc. is working on the project. However, I am not aware of any orders for the MDEQ or any other government agency. “

Lyons added that he will seek more information on the consent order and did contact Wright regarding the comment.

Wright also was questioned on further investigation of the village drains by other authorities.

“The State of Michigan is never going to say they have jurisdiction over any of the drains in the village,” he said. “Only the Kearsley Creek. If you push the state on the issue they are going to have the dam and mill pond out.”

“I’m not going to improve the system when there are factors that are outside of our (Genesee County) control,” he concluded.

“On June 28 (the day after the 5-inch rain) there was current running back to the west (from the Mill Pond to the golf course),” he said.

Wright encouraged village officials to resolve the culvert issue.

Pete Morey, village council member and DPW director said after the meeting repairs to the Ridge Road culvert will be done in combination with the state mandated dam gates work set for later this month.

The village DPW proposed to the MDEQ drawing down the level of the mill pond over a three to four day period in early September during the dry season. DPW will then cut about three feet off the top of the two eight foot stationary watergates, which will allow the necessary flow over the dam in the event of a major water event. Those top sections of the watergates can then be put back in place and removed if necessary. The need, say MDEQ officials, is to allow sufficient water to pass through if heavy rains were to occur.

“Once the water is down in the mill pond we can address the tube to the golf course under Ridge Road,” said Morey. “At that point we can have WadeTrim take a look at the gate that should be covering the 6-inch tube that’s leaking and determine the best way to stop the back flow. But, that’s only gong to take care of 10 percent of the problem. We just get more water sent to us at times than we can handle and the storm on June 27 was too overwhelming.”

Morey said consider 1-inch of water over 1 acre is equal to 28,500 gallons. On June 27 about 6 inches fell, which totals 171,000 gallons of water per acre.

“Combine the area of the golf course and other property in the area of Ridge Road and Hegel Road there’s about 110 acres of water or 18,810,000 gallons of water in a very short period of time. There’s no drain that can handle that—it’s just a wet summer. The nine village drains mentioned by Wright are all working, but they were just overwhelmed in that storm. Many drains were overfilled.”

Wright did agree that no drain would handle the 5 inches of rain the community received in about an hour and a half on June 27.