The flooding along Badfish Creek has been bad for years, but as about a dozen residents told the Village Board on Monday night, it’s going “from bad to worse.”
About 20 residents who live along Jefferson Street between the railroad tracks and Ash Street attended the April 8 meeting to ask for help in dealing with flooding that has gotten worse over recent years.
“There has to be a sense of urgency,” one homeowner who lives on the western edge of the affected area – where Keller Alpine Meadows Park starts – told the board. “You’re going to have parts of Oregon that have been tenable for years that will be untenable (if nothing is done.)”
The board referred the problem to the May meeting of the village’s Public Works committee, which will work through different options and present a plan of action back to the board.
For some, the flooding has meant sump pumps running 24 hours a day; for others, it’s led to multiple basement refinishings.
Many seemed to blame ongoing construction on the west side of the village for adding to the flooding problem, though public works director Jeff Rau pushed back slightly against that assertion.
“You’re going to see more water, no doubt; that’s just the nature of development,” Rau said. But there are systems in place that slow the water’s path and allow the sediment to fall to the bottom, which results in “much less peak (water flow.)”
“I know people have heard this to death,” Rau said, “but we have a tremendous amount of water everywhere in the village. It’s happening wherever you are unless you happen to be up on a hill.”
The residents were looking for options on how to alleviate the problem and presented anecdotal evidence that the creek is different now from five years ago.
One resident suggested the repeated flooding events and overflowing of detention ponds had slowed the water in the creek by creating a layer of sediment on the bottom. He suggested dredging might increase water flow.
Others brought up the fact that the area is in a drainage district, which village attorney Matt Dregne called an archaic agreement that functions through Dane County and has jurisdiction over the area. It has the authority and requires no further easements to clear the area’s drains, including ditches and canals, Dregne said, and it assesses the cost to property owners.
Rau said some such districts date to the 19th century, and this one hasn’t been active in 40-50 years.
“Long term, as we move forward, I truly believe we’re headed to a wetter climatological time period,” Rau said.
The village should look for ways to install systems to deal with the expected increase of water, he said.
One homeowner concurred.
“The problem here is all these people who built when the ground was dry,” she said. In her backyard, which is now consistently flooded, “I had a 60 year old black walnut that does not grow in water.”
“We’ve got some serious problems – hopefully everyone’s gonna come and say, ‘Hey this is real. Is it going to cost money? Yeah, but are you just going to toss your property away?”