New basin opens as flooding overwhelms Louisville system - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

New basin opens as flooding overwhelms Louisville system

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Metro administrators have completed about half of the $850 million in planned improvements to the system and have added capacity. Metro administrators have completed about half of the $850 million in planned improvements to the system and have added capacity.
Terry Twyman Terry Twyman
Twyman said he misses the wooded area behind his home, but he's willing to overlook that if his home never floods again. Twyman said he misses the wooded area behind his home, but he's willing to overlook that if his home never floods again.
Wiley Davidson Wiley Davidson
Brian Bingham Brian Bingham

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Louisville's stormwater system was powerless against this weekend's storm despite hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements, Metro Sewer District administrators said.

Metro administrators have completed about half of the $850 million in planned improvements to the system and have added capacity. Twelve retention basins have been collecting floodwaters for the past several years.

Record-setting rainfall totals of nearly six inches in parts of Jefferson County this weekend overwhelmed the system – but flooding could've been worse if new retention basins hadn't been built, Bingham said.

"We've done a lot of work, we've added about a billion gallons of storage to the system, but there's always going to be a storm that's bigger than what we designed for," said Brian Bingham, the sewer district's regulatory services director.

It's a misconception that the city's pumping stations should've been activated this weekend, Bingham said. They're designed to be used if water levels are high both on the Ohio River and inland creeks. Gates would keep the Ohio from spilling inland and the pumps could still move water into the river.

But the Ohio River was low this weekend, allowing inland creeks and streams to move the water into the river as they normally would, Bingham said.

"Those (pumps) do not move the water out as efficiently as the gravity system does naturally," he said.

One of the flood prevention measures, the basins, are expensive -- the newest one in Louisville's South End is costing the department more than $3 million. Buying out selected homeowners is "possible" as administrators look for future alternatives, Bingham said.

The South End basin is at the end of residential Atlanta Parkway, near New Cut Road.

The area has flooded before, and sewer district crews cut down woods to carve out the new basin. It filled up Sunday but water didn't flood into Terry Twyman's home as it did during the 1997 floods.

"My wife and I have said, if it floods again, we're moving," said Twyman, who's lived in the home for 43 years. "It's a big relief to know we don't have to worry about re-doing (our home) and throwing our belongings away like we did in '97."

Twyman said he misses the wooded area behind his home, but he's willing to overlook that if his home never floods again.

Other neighbors, including Wiley Davidson, haven't been as happy about the new basin. Davidson has a daughter and is concerned that the retention area isn't fenced in.

"It worries me," he said. "You hear of kids drowning every day. Being 20 feet deep, that's not anything to play around with."

The basin prevented the water from getting into his home, but it still came up to his garage, Davidson said.

Sewer district administrators said their system has stabilized after Monday's calm weather.

If residents are still dealing with sewer backups, administrators said to call (502) 587-0603 for help.

Copyright 2013 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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