Hearings address Cannelton floodwall certification

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City council approves inspection, seeks money

Managing Editor

CANNELTON – The Cannelton Common Council conducted public hearings Nov. 11 concerning a mandate to have the city’s floodwall accredited and on relief wells protecting that floodwall.

The first hearing was scheduled “to talk about the city’s work that has been completed on the planning grant that was awarded back in 2010,” Nathan Held said. The senior project administrator for the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission explained the funding came as a disaster-recovery grant through the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency required cities to check their flood-protection systems following flooding along the Gulf of Mexico that resulted from Hurricane Katrina. Works-board members voted to employ Cole Engineering Solutions of Cold Spring, Ky., to do the work for $229,000.

“The city received a grant of $224,000,” Held said last week, “and originally had committed $13,000 in local matching funds.”

Examination of the floodwall revealed problems that hiked the cost over $65,000, he continued, which would be discussed in the second hearing of the evening. The revised amount “is significantly more,” Held noted, “but it’s helping you out on your next grant.”

He introduced David Wright from the Kleingers Group of West Chester, Ohio, who attended the meeting in the place of Cole Engineering’s Jeremiah Cole. Wright reminded the council members that cities which failed to meet the FEMA mandate would have their flood-protection systems decertified, meaning those cities would be in floodplains.

“There’s a lot of good news and there’s definitely some bad news in what we found,” he said. Good news included that Cannelton’s floodwall and levees are higher than required and floodgates inserted into the wall when the river rises are in good working order.

Interior drainage was mapped to determine where water would accumulate against the levee, he continued, “and we’ve updated the operations and maintenance manual for the entire city.”

Bad news concerned relief wells, as the city leaders have discussed in recent months. Well Nos. 15 through 19 need to be replaced,Wright said. No. 14 can be cleaned out to become operational again, he said. He added during the second hearing that No. 20 had failed “but according to our geotechnical analysis, it’s not providing any significant benefit” so it won’t need to be replaced.

Sewer Department Superintendent Jerry Ball explained at a July meeting the wells are intended to divert water to the dry side of the city’s levee during flooding to relieve water pressure that could infiltrate soil.

Wright presented sets of binders containing information compiled during the engineering firms’ examination of the wells, saying they would be available in city offices for people to reference.

“I’m happy to get it,” Mayor Mary Snyder told Wright. “I want to go forward with the relief wells and get those done. I want to be done by next spring.”

Councilman Jack Harris agreed, adding, “we want to get it done as quickly as we can and get it done properly.”

The second hearing brought discussion about how to fund replacement of the wells.

“The city will be asking for a grant of $527,500” through OCRA, Held said. “That covers the construction for the relief wells, the engineering and the grant administration.”

At one point it seemed all the funds had been exhausted from the national source, but due to some lower-than-expected bids and other reasons, more money was freed up. Other changes occurred that inserted a 10-percent match requirement where none existed, Held continued, but money spent on planning and inspecting could be applied to that.

“That just leaves you with $18,500 that you have to come up with on the construction side” to meet match requirements for the $527,500, he said.

The wells that have to be replaced are approximately 100 feet deep and 200 feet apart, Wright said.

The target date for getting an application submitted is the end of this year and the bidding process for the work could occur in February or March. Snyder said the $18,500 could be paid from the city’s economic-development income-tax revenues.

“It’s been a long struggle for us,” she said. “We’ve had several meetings, we’ve hashed it over every way we can and we were glad (state officials) came through with the second grant.”

“We always knew that there was a possibility that once the accreditation guys looked at it, we could run into some huge repairs,” Clerk-Treasurer Arvina Bozarth noted. “We’re probably lucky that it was only what it was.”

City officials had been told reaccreditation would have to occur ever 10 years, but Ball said that may have changed.

“They said it may go 15 or 20, they don’t know,” he told the council.

The council approved two resolutions after its regular meeting began the same evening. The first signaled the city leaders’ satisfaction with the levee-system evaluation contingent on a review by state officials.

The second authorized the application for grant funding for the relief-wells work and committed the $18,500.