Flooding causing some issues at treatment plant

City officials have placed sandbags at Riverview Park to combat flooding. The river is expected to crest this weekend. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC Editor


FORT MADISON – Recent heavy rains and flooding has water saturating Fort Madison’s Riverview Park and causing some headaches for city workers, but so far, residents have been unaffected.

Fort Madison Public Works Director Larry Driscoll said a check valve is stuck open at the waste water treatment plant that is allowing water to back up into the facility, causing a few headaches.

“We’re sand bagging to make sure it won’t interfere with screen and won’t affect residential services. It’s strictly operational,” Driscoll said. “It’s always a headache when you’re dealing with flooding. Since we’re still a combined sewer, any rain event causes havoc for crew at the treatment plant.”

When the rehabilitation budget for the third phase of the work at the treatment plant came in $3 million over the $15 million budget, Driscoll said the city had to pare back the scope of the project and flood mitigation measures were part of the cuts.

“We had to downsize the floodwall and we did some things operationally to make up the shortfall, but even if we’d had the floodwall in, we would still have issues because of the check valve that is stuck open,” he said.

The check valve is either stuck open with debris from the backflow of flood waters or may be from some debris from the rehabilitation work, Driscoll said he couldn’t be sure what was causing the problem.

Lee County Emergency Management coordinator Steve Cirinna said a river crest is expected to occur over the weekend at just over 21 feet. He said flooding should be contained to low lying areas such as Riverview Parks in both Montrose and Fort Madison.

“Fort Madison’s park is shut down because the water is backing up into the main storm drains,” Cirinna said. “At Montrose, the road at River Park will be covered before the river crests, but it shouldn’t have any major effect on the public, unless we were to get some more heavy rains, which aren’t predicted right now.”

He said if the area were to get any more heavy rains, flash flooding would occur because the ground can’t absorb any more water and residents should be aware of that should any additional heavy rains hit the area.

Cirinna also said Iowa Individual Assistance has been activated due to the flooding if applicants meet 200% of the federal poverty guidelines for the number of people in the household. However, he said he’s not aware of any residential issues cause by the flooding other than some possible basement backup.

“Nothing’s been reported. Generally with this type of flooding, they may get some in the basement. That is a state program, not FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), so no federal declaration is required for this type of assistance. Right now with this, at this point, I don’t anticipate presidential declarations and with current river projections this shouldn’t be a long-term issue,” Cirinna said.

Driscoll said the city has barricades up between 11th and 14th streets along 20th Avenue and residents should try to avoid those areas if possible. He also said motorists should stay out of Riverview Park. He said anyone wanting to observe or photograph the flooding should use the 10th street walkover.

“That’s a pretty good view of everything from up there.”

Flooding in Riverview Park didn’t keep these two determined walkers away Thursday afternoon. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC Editor
Flooding in Riverview Park, with water covering some roads, has prompted city officials to close the park. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC Editor

Updated information on localized flooding can be obtained by clicking here: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=dvn

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