Sherman leaders received an update on plans and efforts to prevent future flooding throughout the city Monday night when city staff gave an update on the city’s storm-water utility fund. Staff provided information on recent efforts to mitigate flood risk in addition to outlining future projects, including a $83 million detention pond project, that could be pursued in the future.
“So, this is one of the presentations that we were contemplating for the budget workshop,” City Manager Robby Hefton said Monday of the workshop to take place Thursday and Friday. “After we put together the agenda for the workshop, we were not likely to have enough time to do everything we were planning on.”
The recent focus on flood control dates back to 2013 when the city conducted a study of Post Oak Creek and identified 42 flood control projects with an estimated cost of about $56.2 million. The city again focused its attention on flood control two years later when it established the storm-water utility fund in 2017.
This was funded by a monthly fee that averaged to about $1 for residents, with contributions from non-residential uses paying a fee based on size. The fee was expected to bring in about $435,000 in annual income for the city.
One of the first actions the city took with this new fund was to leverage some of the income to purchase $3.9 million in bonds for flood control and acquisition of property that is prone to flooding.
The properties that have been acquired by the city include a set of duplexes on Regency Circle that sustained significant damage during storms during the summer of 2017. A former mobile home park at 1600 W. Lamar was also purchased as a part of these acquisitions.
Since then, these properties have been demolished to prevent future flooding. As an additional effect, the demolitions created additional green space for the city.
Revenue from the fund has been used to hire two new staff members that will focus on maintenance of streams and other flood-control assets, Sherman Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. These new city staff started work clearing vegetation around Center Street this spring, he added.
Looking forward, Philpott said another focus has been on updating the city’s flood plain maps. Philpott said this information will be used to update similar maps used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The floodplain has shifted in several places since the last update, with some areas no longer considered a flood risk, while others now run the risk of flooding during a heavy storm.
Among the areas that saw a reduction in the flood plain was the intersection of U.S. Highways 75 and 82.
“If you’ve ever been there, it would be hard to believe that it would ever flood,” Hefton said. “The owners of that gas station there are excited to be out of the flood plain because they have spent a lot of money each year having to have insurance.”
An area that is less fortunate in this study are residents along the Archer Drive corridor. A large portion of the area was already considered a part of the flood plain, but now new areas are expected to be added, including apartments along the roadway. Some of the apartments that will be added were among the areas that saw flooding during the stormy season in 2007.
Philpott said the city has considered options for increased flood water mitigation that could reduce the size of the flood plain in some areas. However, several options are expected to have limited results or come at a significant cost.
The city has considered the construction of a $20 million detention pond south of Fairview Park, but Philpott said the project would only reduce the flood plain by about two feet and affect 27 properties.
Alternatively, a detention pond along West Sand Creek, located near the future Friendship Road, could reduce the flood plain along Archer Drive by more than seven feet, but would come with a price tag of nearly $83 million. Hefton described the proposed pond as a major project that would be about 10 times the size of the pond at Herman Baker Park.
“It is impactful, but the cost is significant,” Philpott said.
City staff said the project would likely involve significant grant funding and outside assistance, but did not specify what form this could be in. As this was an informational item, the council took no action Monday night.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at email@example.com or @mhutchinsHD on Twitter.