Belfast to conduct citywide water flow analysis

By Jordan Bailey | Sep 03, 2014
Photo by: Jordan Bailey City Manager Joseph Slocum compares pictures of two roads with drainage issues: Wight Street, left, and Seaview Terrace, right.

Belfast — At the Belfast City Council's request, Olver Associates Inc., the city's engineering firm, will draw up a scope of services and quote for a citywide water flow and drainage analysis.

The request was prompted by comments by Seaview Terrace resident Laurie Allen at the Aug. 19 council meeting, in which she presented diagrams showing how she believed some of the city's drainage systems were failing, causing excess water to be channeled onto her property.

During discussion at that meeting, councilors said they would like to know how drainage systems citywide are holding up and how water flows throughout the city.

While the city is not authorized to construct or maintain drainage systems on private property, it is responsible for maintaining public roads. Keeping them well-drained is a high priority, according to City Manager Joseph Slocum.

Road surfaces should sit on a bed of about a foot of gravel, not on standing water, Slocum said during a meeting with The Republican Journal. When water gets under the surface it can lead to "alligator cracking," or, when it freezes, frost heaves, reducing the longevity of the road surface.

On the most heavily trafficked roads, the city installs and maintains in-ground storm- drain systems, with catch basins and tubes laid out so that gravity diverts water from the roadways. On less trafficked roads, the city sometimes employs other drainage options, including deep ditches or ditches filled in with gravel and perforated piping.

"Most of these drainage systems were designed to sustain for a 25-year storm," said Slocum. The city has been experiencing heavier rainfalls than that in recent years, he said.

A 25-year storm is one which, based on the amount of rainfall, has a 4-percent, or one-in-25, chance of occurring. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lists Belfast in a zone where 4 inches of rainfall in 24 hours is considered a 25-year storm.

"We're going to look at drainage issues to understand natural water flows and natural streams and where are people impacted," he said. "We'd also like [Public Works Director] Bob Richards to tell us the 10 worst spots."

However, he said, the city will not be fixing every issue identified in the analysis.

Slocum said the scope of services and quote should be completed by Sept. 5, and that he will present it at a council meeting for approval.

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