City officials taking steps to fix residential flooding problems

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COLUMBIA – After months of discussion and negotiations, city officials are taking more action to try to fix the stormwater and sewer problems at Worley and Again Streets.

Residents say the old, outdated stormwater drains are not carrying away rainwater properly, and that is causing their yards and homes to flood. In addition, the excess rainwater causes the sanitary sewer pipes to overload and leak sewage into the yard.

Monday, the Columbia City Council talked about a proposal to buy a home on Again Street to eliminate flooding issues around the area. They may decide to make an offer to buy Karie Watson’s home. Crews will need to reach sewer pipes beneath the home in order to correct the problems.

The city plans to purchase and remove Watson’s house at 1105 Again Street and make it the site of a stormwater drainage area.

But, during Monday night’s council meeting, Mayor Brian Treece told Watson he doesn’t think purchasing her home will fix the problem.

“I see problems with your home being symptoms of the symptomatic observations of the problem. I don’t see the buyout of your home fixing the problem," he said.

Treece said he intends to ask what the council is doing to address stormwater and sanitary issues in Watson's neighborhood.

"Just removing your home doesn’t make that go away,” he said.

Watson said she agrees with Treece but hopes the city council approves the purchase because it will help her neighbors.

Watson said she did experience a sewer basement backup and a severe yard flooding in 2015, but not since.

“I don’t have the problems, thank you God, but everyone around me does and I can force it to happen because I have all of the pipes on my yard,” Watson said.  “I feel so sorry for them.”

Watson said she initially did not want to sell her home to the city but now feels it’s the right thing to do, because her neighbors have been so frustrated.

“One lady on Again Street won’t even talk about it because it gives her heart palpitations,” Watson said. “They’ve dealt with this for 40 years, they get heart problems talking about it because they know nothing’s going to be done."

Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said the Again Street area is in a floodplain. He said the only fix for some of the properties that were built in flood areas is buying them and doing serious stormwater mitigation.

“I think it’ll be a step in the right direction” Trapp said. “If we buy the house and we remove the house, we can use that to have for stormwater detention. It will allow us to move those sewer facilities, then it’s going to be another step towards addressing that area.”

At the July 5 council meeting, members will consider authorizing the purchase of Watson’s home for $147,500. The project is anticipated to cost about $200,000. According to city reports, the county assessor’s office has appraised the property at $106,900.  The reports said funding would come from stormwater and sanitary sewer utilities.