The Silver Lining to Record Rainfall
On the last weekend of September, record rainfall besieged Peoria. Over a three-day period, the National Weather Service estimated that over four inches fell on the city. Unofficial reports in some areas of the city were as much as seven inches on Friday, September 27. The most visible signs from that extremely wet weekend – washed out roads, backed-up sewers and flooded basements – have receded. The long-term effects on the city’s storm drainage system, however, are still being felt.
Although an historic rainfall will always wreak havoc, the city is in much better position today to handle the aftermath, while making proactive improvements to its stormwater infrastructure that will mitigate the impacts of such storms in the future.
“If there was a silver lining in all those rain clouds, it’s that it reinforces the importance of having a dedicated stormwater utility,” says Andrea Klopfenstein, Peoria’s Stormwater Engineer. “Because the utility funds are dedicated exclusively for storm drainage work, we are able to rearrange stormwater projects instead of impacting roadway and other operations projects. We’re in a much better position today to deal with emergencies, without negatively impacting other city services.”
Storms like this demonstrate why proper disposal of sticks and other natural debris is important. The city’s operations crews removed an abundance of small sticks and debris, as well as full trees and other large debris that washed in front of and blocked culverts. These obstructions caused flooding in areas that would have remained relatively clear had the culverts been open and flowing.
The Public Works Department is continuing to assess damage from the storm and is working on repairing multiple sites. Although many of these efforts are happening underground or out of the public’s eye, they are still critical measures that have a great impact on the quality of life for residents.
To shine some sunlight on how your stormwater fees are being put to good use, the city is assembling specific details and maps that will allow you to see exactly where improvements are being made in response to the storm. Be sure to check back to this site to get a better understanding of how your stormwater utility is improving Peoria.