Ratepayers may foot part of bill for flooding solution

Costs for new culvert in Washington County estimated around $515,000

Crews work on new housing development that some homeowners say is causing them flooding issues, Sept. 22, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Crews work on new housing development that some homeowners say is causing them flooding issues, Sept. 22, 2014. (KOIN 6)

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN 6) — In video from late June, Southwest Brookside Drive in Beaverton looked more like a river than a road.

“The water ran across the street and into our house,” said Paul Carney. “The water was up to about 4 or 5 inches on the garage and actually flowing through the doors.”

Paul Carney shows where water rushed into his yard, moving dirt from the foundation, washing out steps and tipping over a woodpile, Sept. 24, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Paul Carney shows where water rushed into his yard, moving dirt from the foundation, washing out steps and tipping over a woodpile, Sept. 24, 2014. (KOIN 6)

After heavy rains, water rushed into Carney’s yard, moving dirt from the foundation, washing out steps and tipping over a woodpile.

“It’s pretty much a mess,” said Carney.

According to Carney, repair estimates came in at $5,000 to $10,000.

Clean Water Services Spokesperson Mark Jockers said the cause of the flooding was a pipe that was too small for the heavy rainfall.

“There’s a significantly under-sized culvert,” said Jockers.

The incident in June was not the first time the area experienced flooding after a significant amount of rain.

Documents obtained through a public information request showed five other flooding complaints in the past.

  • Howard Gay reported “local flooding” in April 2003.
  • James Foley reported that the “pipe going under roadway is blocked” in December 2010.
  • Tony Secker reported that the “ditch…is not working correctly” in October 2013.
  • James Foley reported that “creek water is flooding street” in March 2014.
  • Lori Secker reported that “water was flooding the road and coming into her garage” in June 2014.

washington-county-flooding-09222014

Carney said he feels tree removal for a housing development that began around six years ago also played a role in the increased drainage.

The development sits near Southwest Brookside and Southwest Spring Crest drives, just up the hill from a north Johnson Creek tributary and the cluster of homes that are complaining of flooding.

“When the first development was completed, around 2008-2009…we saw a measurable impact on the flooding of the stream,” said Carney. “Now that phase two is going in, we are very concerned with the upcoming fall rains.”

The property has changed hands over the years with Mission Homes Northwest LLC becoming the most recent owner in early 2014 to finish the subdivision.

When asked if the development was affecting flooding or runoff, Jockers said it was something they need to look at.

“Certainly, we need to look at that. We need to look at how development occurs there. At the end of the day, that property is still in the floodway,” he said.

Mission Homes Northwest Land Manager Kurt Dalbey agreed to answer some questions.

“There is always an opportunity to blame a developer when he comes in, but remember this project, before  I bought it, had been clear-cut of absolutely every tree,” said Dalbey.

He said Mission Homes Northwest didn’t start construction until July 7, 2014, which is more than a week after the last complaint of flooding. The area has been dry since then.

“All my conversations are with Clean Water Services on a set of plans they submit. They do their calculations, come back and inform me of what I’m going to do and what I’m going to pay. I write a check and away we go,” said Dalbey.

Documents showed that Mission Homes Northwest did cut Clean Water Services a check for $68,000.

According to a memo, Emerio Design, an engineering firm hired by Mission Homes Northwest, recommended that was what they should pay to help fix the culvert.

Dalbey said that the $68,000 Mission Homes Northwest is providing Clean Water Services is normal for a development project.

“If there are neighbors down there that have issues, they really need to take them up with Clean Water Services,” Dalbey said. “I’m just simply writing a check to them to solve a whole bunch of problems.”

“When they are off of my land and have nothing to do with what we’re doing, I will sometimes write them a check, so that they solve them adequately,” Dalbey continued, “because it’s beyond the scope of what we would do for my lots, my subdivision – because I’m required to solve 100% of everything on my site.”

When asked why then he would contribute any money, Dalbey replied:  “I’ve been in the develop business long-term. I have been in it my whole life. It’s like why would I donate to schools if I could make an area better I’ll do it. I don’t want to leave an area half-baked.”

Since Mission Homes Northwest gave Clean Water Service $68,000, Clean Water Services said construction of the new culvert was fast-tracked from 2018 to summer 2015. Clean Water Services also said they would be responsible for the rest of the project.

A budget indicated that engineering and construction costs are estimated at around $515,000, leaving Clean Water Services responsible for about $447,000 after receiving the $68,000 check from Mission Homes Northwest. Those remaining costs will likely have to come from ratepayers. 

Jockers said he does not believe the agency settled for too little from the developer.

“I think we got a tremendous value out of it actually,” he said, “because you essentially have a culvert that’s probably 50 years old.

“It is a lot of public money. It’s a lot of our rate payer money. That’s where we have to weigh our rate payers’ money against also some of the risks that these people that live in floodways already have.”

Dalbey also said a $100,000 drainage system and retention pond, which will collect rainwater on the subdivision property, will be connected to the subdivision in early October.

Though Carney said he is still concerned the county’s culvert fix is more than a year away.

“I just want to get the problem fixed. I want a commitment from Clear Water Services and Washington County,” he said.

According to Jockers, the engineering group that’s handling the culvert project for Clean Water Services said that the project consultant on Brookside has been tasked with finding some ideas to put in place before this winter.

They expect to know more about shorter term solutions by the end of October.

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