A flood of opinion: City, Wildwood Park residents disagree on flood project

Published 10:36 am Friday, June 27, 2014

Though workers are making steady progress on the North Main Flood Control project, there are a few people who aren’t sure about the city of Austin’s flood mitigation project benefits.

Several residents from the Wildwood Park neighborhood west of the Hormel Foods Corp. Corporate Office North expressed concerns about the project to Public Works Director Steven Lang during a flood project presentation at Austin Public Library last week.

Residents were concerned the flood project would raise the Cedar River’s water table and allow flooded waters to back up into their neighborhoods.

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“The water’s got to go somewhere,” one resident said.

Lang said an engineering firm hired by the city found the Cedar River would only rise 1 to 1.5 inches north of Interstate 90 due to the North Main Flood Control project and other city mitigation efforts. In addition, another engineering firm hired by the Cedar River Watershed District confirmed those projections.

Lang cautioned the figures were estimates based on the trends found in the firm’s hydraulic evaluation — the way to figure out how water moves through an area. Floods can still happen based on a variety of weather and soil factors, according to Lang, which can make estimating how a river changes difficult.

“The reason it becomes difficult is every rainfall is different,” he said.

Yet residents were concerned about their properties and tried to convince Lang to get the city to build a berm in the neighborhood. Lang said after the meeting the Wildwood Park area was already addressed when the city acquired and removed homes in north Austin.

“By acquiring those homes and sealing up those connections, we have greatly reduced sewer backup issues for the Wildwood Park neighborhood,” he said. “I would say we have nearly eliminated it.”