Tackling flooding problems



Library officials are looking for engineers to help with solutions.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- Library officials want to make sure water from nearby Yellow Creek does not again threaten the Poland library building, but a water conservation official says the threat has a lot to do with where the building sits.
In late May, water ran over the banks of Yellow Creek and threatened to flood the library's lower level. Library officials said doors on the lower level kept most of the water out of the building, but the bookstore and meeting room suffered water damage.
Heather Moser, watershed coordinator at Mahoning County Soil & amp; Water Conservation District, said the reasons behind the library's flooding concerns with Yellow Creek are twofold.
First, Moser said, the library, like many surrounding homes and businesses, is part of a watershed that has seen drastic changes in development in the last two decades. The watershed, she said, runs from New Waterford to the Mahoning River in Struthers and encompasses all business along U.S. Route 224, starting at Boardman Park and coming back into Poland.
"We've got more parking lots and less dirt. The more parking lots and less dirt you have, the faster [water] runoff happens," she said.
The faster water runoff flows right past the library.
Built in flood plain
Moser said a second reason for the library's water woes is that it is built in a flood plain. She said the former library, at the same location, was much smaller, not as close to the creek, and did not take up as much of the flood plain.
Carlton Sears, library director, said library officials consulted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for advice before the building was even designed. He said it was determined at what level above the creek the parking lot and building should be constructed, and they were built 11/2 feet above the recommended level to prevent flooding.
Moser said raising the level of a building in a flood plain can prevent flooding, but in some cases, the water still rises above the raised sides.
Moser said rivers and streams must flood as a means of dissipating energy being carried with the flowing waters by allowing the water to spill out of the river or stream channel and spread over the flood plain.
She said if flooding is not allowed in a stream or river system, erosion can occur along with other problems downstream.
"Streams need to flood; it is a natural part of the system. When buildings are put in a flood plain, they are in the way of floodwaters," she said. "It is very hard to build on a flood plain and not get flooded."
Looking to get help
Sears said the library is looking to work with engineers knowledgeable in watershed and flood plain issues to prevent problems. He said the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the soil and water conservation district will provide a list of such engineers.
Sears also said the library is working with officials of surrounding communities that feed into the Yellow Creek watershed to see what can be done to prevent problems with the creek.
Moser said a collaborative effort between the communities is exactly what is needed. She said plans for development and zoning must be made with Yellow Creek in mind.
"If you don't plan with the stream in mind, it will come back to haunt you," she said.
jgoodwin@vindy.com

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