On Tuesday night two years of work from the Wildcat Creek Watershed Working Group came to the floor of the Manhattan city commission.
City staff gave an initial briefing on the management plan which will be going forward in its final adjustments before possible adoption by city and county officials in July.
The plan includes policy, and other preventative measures to help mitigate flood damage in the area. Some infrastructure changes have already been implemented such as three high tech gauges placed strategically across the watershed area that give experts a clear picture of water flows, and automated advanced warning to residents and officials.
City staff also pointed out that the new focus on the zero net watershed gain from new construction within the city has been shown to be paying off with reductions in water flows from the city watershed, but there needs to be a comprehensive plan integrated from the surrounding rural areas.
Local resident Steve Fister says the best laid plans won’t make up for what current residents who reside in the flood plain area go through year after year. Fister says the only thing that will fix the issue is money, and that isn’t feasible at this time.
Working group member Rod Harms is pleased with the progress the group has made throughout the past two years with engaging with the community, and experts, to start the process of managing the area’s flood plain. However, Harms says he knows the issue is complicated and will need continuous development down the road.
Mayor John Matta, and Commissioner Karen McCulloh had high praise for the working group’s efforts.
The commission charged city staff with coming up with more long range numbers on costs of relocating those in the flood plain, and compare it with costs incurred with emergency services and infrastructure repairs to determine long range feasibility.