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More work needed on downtown flood mitigation

Johnson City Press • Aug 12, 2018 at 8:15 AM

Heavy downpours in the past week left portions of downtown Johnson City under a foot or more of water. It was a far too familiar sight and quite unsettling, particularly in light of the time and money the city has put into storm water mitigation.

But there was both good news and bad news to take away from the events. We mustn’t forget the area is in a flood plain, and the rising water from King and Brush creeks went mostly to where it was engineered to go.

That is, however, little comfort to the business and property owners who saw surface water stream into their front doors instead of storm water culverts.

As we reported, the intersection of West Market and Boone streets was covered by standing water after severe storms struck Monday and again Friday. The intersection is located near two of the city’s flood mitigation projects — a detention pond at King and Boone Streets and the park at King Commons.

King Creek overflowed its banks into King Commons, which it is supposed to do during such events. Storm water was also flowing into a retention pond located on the lot bordered by West Market, King, Montgomery and Boone streets, but it also overflowed from the street surface and was spilling into the holding pond and onto area sidewalks.

Johnson City Public Works Director Phil Pindzola told Press Senior Reporter Becky Campbell he would need “to see how much rain we got and look at those catch basins.” He also speculated the city might “need to add some” storm basins to improve flood control.

Unquestionably, several inches or more of rain in a short period of time will strain even the best storm water conveyance system. Such events are not normal, but then again what is considered normal now with climate change?

Before rushing to any drastic conclusions, it’s obvious the city needs to make sure those storm water catch basins downtown and elsewhere (flooding was reported in neighborhoods throughout the city) are clear of obstructions and flowing as they should. Perhaps there are areas where larger or additional storm water basins are needed.

The city should not wait until the next downtown flood to find out.

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