With residents of the Elroy Acres subdivision in Breslau facing ongoing flooding issues, Woolwich is moving to make improvements to a rundown municipal drain.
As a first step, councillors meeting Tuesday night approved spending up to $50,000 to hire an engineering firm to begin investigating the problem and options for fixing it.
Full engineering costs could hit $150,000 and construction another $700,000, according to estimates from the township’s drainage superintendent. As with similar projects, the tab would eventually be picked up by the benefitting property owners.
Some improvements are needed come what may, as the current drain is in poor shape and undersized for current demands, deputy clerk Jeff Smith told councillors. Known as Breslau Municipal Drain No. 1, it dates back to 1953 and hasn’t been well maintained in the intervening decades.
Woolwich received requests for improvements from four residents, he noted.
“The request for maintenance was in part due to ponding of water on residents’ properties, surcharging of the drain and reports of basement flooding,” Smith said in a written report.
“Camera inspection of the closed portion of the drain revealed approximately 30 blockages including pipes, roots, mud, and stones and the camera inspection had to be abandoned 10 times due to blockages. The open portion of the drain requires cleanout, brushing and levelling.”
The problems were well documented by residents who addressed council.
Kennedy Road resident Dave Ritchie, for instance, said his yard is frequently inundated with three or four feet of water during snowmelts, particularly the February thaw.
“I’m probably the most affected person in the room,” he said, showing photos of water pooling a few feet deep in his yard.
He explained that his low-lying lot has become an outlet for water running downhill during heavy rainfalls and snowmelts, suggesting that neighbours filling in drainage ditches have made the situation worse.
“This all started to happen when the ditches starting getting filled in.
“I’m very angry about it,” he said of the water pouring onto his property. “I need something done now, or else I’ll be flooded again in February.”
He wasn’t the only resident asking the township to make clearing ditches a priority.
“I just want people to be accountable for filling in the ditches,” said Mike Markovic, noting the ditches used to be effective in mitigating the flooding, but have since been filled in. As such, stormwater isn’t draining from the Elroy Acres subdivision as it once did.
The tribulations of the neighbourhood got a sympathetic hearing from councillors.
“Your patience is overwhelming,” Coun. Mark Bauman told Ritchie. “I can appreciate this is not acceptable. This can’t happen in February again.
“We need to have a solution – a short-term solution and a long-term solution.”
Simply cleaning out ditches may not be the solution in question, however, argued director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley.
“We’re not sure that the filling in of ditches is the major problem here,” he said, noting the modelling to be done by the engineering firm would help staff get a better handle on the problem.
“I don’t think that just opening up the ditches is going to be the solution,” added drainage superintendent Greg Nancekivel, suggesting that it wouldn’t make sense to spend a large sum of money on that pursuit if the solution is to replace the drains in relatively short order.
Pressed by council, Smith said staff would be expediting the process, starting with picking an engineer.