NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – Flooding on the Ohio River this spring left many businesses damaged and homes in need of rebuilding.
The high waters have come and gone, but the community of New Albany is planning improvements to its flood-pump system. Officials are working on it now so they’ll be prepared if the river rises again.
The flood-pump station near the New Albany riverfront sits quiet now. High water from flooding in the spring left the station running constantly.
“At this particular location, we were pumping over 160,000 gallons a minute,” said Christopher Gardner, stormwater utility and flood control district director for New Albany.
The flooding on the Ohio meant the city shut its flood gates, leaving rainwater with nowhere to flow.
“Once those gates are shut, this creek, all the water diverts into this trash rack here into the pumping station,” Gardner said, showing how the water would need to be pumped out to the river. “The pumps then pick the water up and manually pump it through three 48-inch pipes up and over the levee.”
This year brought the 12th-largest flood on record in New Albany.
“At the highest, this is about how high the water was,” Gardner said.
The water reached all the way up to the platform at the pump station. Another foot or so and it would have overcome it. Luckily, the city spent around $2 million making needed upgrades and replacing the 60-year-old equipment in 2014 and 2015 at the six pump stations before the flood, or things could have gone very differently.
“Had this facility not been kept up, you would have seen flooding in certain intersections, roadways, potentially homes,” Gardner said.
During the spring flooding, the power supply in New Albany did not give up. It kept running for five straight days, making sure the water went back out into the Ohio River. But if it did, it could have been a big problem, and that’s why they want a backup power supply.
They’re designing backup generators for all six flood pump stations, so the community can continue to fight high water if future flooding knocks out the power supply.
“The quicker you can respond to an issue, the better off you’re going to be,” Gardner said.
If plans are approved by the flood commission, construction could start next year.
“I’m quite confident this is a project that all will see as a necessity,” Gardner said. Taking care of this now, he said, will protect the community of New Albany from high waters for years to come.