River of options shape Paradise Valley storm water retention

Town residents looking at different maps of the municipality. (photo by Town of Paradise Valley)

During a day of intermittent rain, chilly wind and a number of clouds overhead, Paradise Valley Town Council was deliberating over the very thing that teased them outside: unexpected consequences from storm water.

During a March 23 study session at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, the town’s elected leaders discussed their future direction for the municipality’s storm water policy and revisions to be made to its storm drainage manual.

Ultimately, the town council will be moving forward to vote on a resolution that encompasses a combination of the storm-water mitigation choices presented, at an estimated cost of $450,000 initially with an annual allocation of $10,000.

The issues stem from years of resident flooding issues culminating with several months of analysis of the Cheney and Cherokee watersheds in an effort to understand where the water flows in that part of town.

In a 2014 storm that left 80 residential homes flooded, the Town of Paradise Valley began to realize a major issue within its municipality: a lack of effective storm water management.

Furthermore, it appears the Town of Paradise Valley — specifically former Town Engineer Bill Mead — was allowing all new or remodeled homes on what town officials designated as a “Hillside property” to skip storm water retention requirements.

Officials at Town Hall say the storm water retention requirements were waived for what is likely a 25-year period.

At a Feb. 9 study session, town staff along with Bob Haneline of Dibble Engineering presented town council with four options — each varying significantly in cost — to help mitigate issues up to a 10-year storm event in the town-identified watersheds.

The Cheney and Cherokee watersheds are largely bound by Scottsdale Road to the east, Indian Bend Road through Mummy Mountain to the south, along Tatum Boulevard to the West and up to Doubletree Ranch Road to the north.

Paradise Valley Engineering Analyst, Jeremy Knapp, says the town’s studies are focusing on solving problems for smaller, more localized drainage problems specific to areas within the town. Coinciding the Flood Control District of Maricopa County is conducting its own set of larger initiatives to evaluate regional flooding issues.

Flood levels and rain fall are measured by their chance to occur in any given year. The county is conducting a study based on 10-year flood levels — or a 10 percent possibility of a storm that magnitude occurring in any given year. A 100-year event would be a 1 percent chance in any given year that flooding that serious would occur.

The town’s engineering study involves a total of six watersheds to be dissected over the next three years and will encompass the entire town.

During the March 23 study session, the majority of town council supported a hybrid model of the presented options.

“What’s our level of service that we’re providing — or management, storm water management — that the town feels comfortable and is within our means and we can consistently provide in a quality manner?” Town Manager Kevin Burke asked council during the public hearing.

A bumpy journey

Options for the storm water policy ranged from no participation in the National Flood Insurance Program on one end of the spectrum, to protecting the town from a 100-year storm on the opposite end.

After the Feb. 9 conversation, Mr. Knapp says he refined the options based on council input:

  • Option 1 – Status quo
  • Option 2 – Mapping (in addition to status quo)
  • Option 3 – Recommended option (combination of all three refined options)

The town majority expressed interest in going forward with the recommended option.

“This is a combination or addition to the mapping and status quo, in addition to lot by lot and mapping, this is a way we can do physical projects in town,” Mr. Knapp said.

Engineering Analysis Jeremy Knapp talking to town council. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

The types of efforts the town could construct would be small local projects such as curbs and gutters, Mr. Knapp said, and following the Flood Control District’s schedule for area drainage.

The cost for projects identified within the Area Drainage Master Plan would be shared with the county.

If the town moves forward with option 3, the town will need to map the Berneil Watershed; cut out areas of the Area Drainage Master Plan to create one town-wide model; manage changes and updates to the model in the future; and invest approximately $450,000 for the initial effort with an on-going $10,000.

The first two options would include halting the Cheney and Cherokee Watershed studies; and continuing to map the town’s six watershed areas.

The town identified its resolution to be moved upon at its next business meeting.

“This has been a long process coming to identify what a town policy is relative to storm water,” Mayor Michael Collins said during the meeting.

“It was a long journey, it was a bumpy journey, but I think it was a very public one and a very transparent one.”

The proposed resolution includes the town shall provide storm water management services in such a way that information is widely known by property owners; property owners have the ability to purchase federally backed flood insurance; new construction is regulated to mitigate the impacts of storm drainage.

News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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