flooding in the low-lying areas of Pontoon Beach and Granite City. This flooding happened in January when about 7 inches of rain caused water to back up.
"Basically, people were taking their stormwater and putting it into the sewer district line and the sewer districts were backing up," said Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan at a press conference Friday to address the issue.
The most recent efforts began in February with the formation of a committee of county and township officials.
That was later expanded to involve federal and state officials as well as officials from
Granite City, Pontoon Beach, and Edwardsville.
The group has focused on making immediate improvements but is also looking at long-term
Joe Parente, the county's administrator of planning and development, said that Choteau and Nameoki townships are particularly vulnerable to flood problems because stormwater drains from the bluffs into the American Bottoms area and into the Horseshoe Lake watershed. The lake itself, however, has silted over.
One of the committee's short-term goals is to "make drainage channel improvements in the southeast corner of Horseshoe Lake that would
improve the flow between Horseshoe Lake and Cahokia Canal."
State officials have been contacted about opening up the channel. The committee will address the long-term problem of siltation at
Horseshoe and Long lakes.
Other short-term projects include:
- Completing a major drainage structure under the Norfolk and Southern Railroad right-of-way at St. Thomas Road. The old culvert has collapsed causing Stanley Ditch to back up, creating flooding. A new box culvert has been installed.
- Cleanout programs for roadway drainage ditches. The Choteau and Nameoki township highway departments have already cleaned out several ditches, including those at Morrison, English, Lennox, and Tennessee roads.
The committee will also work for the passage of state stormwater legislation that will allow local governments to legally manage stormwater.
Madison County officials are also backing Senate Bill 1910, which would allow the committee to address the flooding problem. It would also allow the county to place a "front-door" referendum on the ballot.
The referendum would allow the county to seek a property tax increase or sales tax increase of no more than 1/10 of 1 percent. The sales tax could potentially raise $1.8 million annually "for stormwater management purposes."
The bill recently passed the Senate, 41-8 and was expected to get its third reading in the House on Thursday. The bill was introduced
by state Sen. Bill Haine and state Rep. Tom Holbrook.