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City of Worthington awarded funds for flood mitigation

WORTHINGTON -- After being on the waiting list for more than two years, the city of Worthington was notified this week it will receive $2.5 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, distributed through a state program for flood mitiga...

WORTHINGTON - After being on the waiting list for more than two years, the city of Worthington was notified this week it will receive $2.5 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, distributed through a state program for flood mitigation.

The award represents about half of the cost of an estimated $5 million, two-phase project. The first phase of construction will be done in 2018 and involves building a retention area along Interstate 90, west of Shopko, and upsizing two culverts on County Ditch 12.

City Engineer Dwayne Haffield said the CD12 culvert on Oxford Street, east of Schwalbach Ace Hardware, will go from an 8x10-foot box culvert to a 14x10-foot box culvert, while the culvert on Oslo Street will increase from an 84-inch round pipe to a 10x10-foot box culvert.

The larger culverts will better handle increased flows from large rain events, Haffield said, noting the retention area will slow water down before it flows north of the interstate. CD12 north of the interstate was improved a couple of years ago.

“We’re reducing the risk of flood damage,” Haffield said of the project. “This first project is one of two projects that will shrink a large majority of the floodplain.”

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A map revision of the city’s flood plain will be redone once the improvements are completed, with many of the changes to impact properties downstream from Oslo Street.

“It does not eliminate (the floodplain) - it reduces its size significantly,” Haffield said.

Eliminating properties from the city’s flood plain will have a positive impact on residential neighborhoods that currently are considered in the flood zone. Those property owners have to purchase flood insurance now, but won’t be required to once their parcel is removed from the flood zone.

“It definitely decreases the flood risk,” Haffield said.

Once the work is completed in the culverts and the retention area, he said the city will prepare for the second phase of the project, which targets improvements to the channel upstream from McMillan Street. That project will include additional water retention.

The city identified the CD 12 project for funding in 2013, and Haffield said pursuit of funding options began shortly thereafter.

“We’re pretty excited to finally get through that,” he said.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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