Recent storms bring flood control to forefront

Flood control in Kingman is a problem that has been relatively easy to put off.

But maybe not for long.

Recent heavy rain have brought citizens living on Fairgrounds Boulevard to city council meetings with pictures showing the damage in their area.

The same storm overflowed Banks Street and cut off traffic across the Mohave Wash in several places.

"The flood and drainage problem has been ignored for years.

We really did not do much until the 1988 Kingman Area Drainage Plan was completed," said City Manager Lou Sorensen.

"The plan gave us a blueprint and we began to ask developers to include drainage and flood control in subdivision plans."

He said, "We create our own problems.

Dirt that absorbed rainfall becomes paved parking lots, roofs and streets and more water runs off as it falls."

Sorensen said the 1988 study was pivotal in launching Kingman on a plan of containment and retention for flood control.

The 1988 study begins with the statement, "Kingman developed without full consideration of drainage needs and the result is public inconvenience and flood damage."

City Engineer Pete Johnson said storm water draining from the Hualapai Foothills is stopped by the Santa Fe/Burlington Northern Railroad and concentrated at places where it is allowed to come under the tracks.

"It comes across and down Harrison and Fairgrounds to the Mohave Wash, under Denny's to Banks street out toward the airport at Diagonal street," he said.

"The natural drainage way is to Mohave Wash and then north out of the city."

Johnson said the storm runoff from the Cerbat Mountains flows east and crosses Stockton Hill Road in several places on the way to the Mohave Wash.

"We are building box culverts along Stockton Hill Road as we prepare to widen it to Northern Avenue and should get better drainage under the street.

A lot of water runs over the street now."

In the meantime, Roberts said, small projects are tackled and major work will await the completion of a drainage and flood control engineering study.

Stantec Engineering is doing a design study of the diversion channel that would move water on the east side of the railroad to near the airport before moving it the Mohave Wash.

The 1988 study had the cost of that work at about $3 million.

The total cost of drainage and flood control projects in the study totaled more than $30 million with much of the cost north of Kingman in areas not being developed.

And the price tags are much higher than the $350,000 a year the city receives from county flood control funds, Sorensen said.

Roberts said the small projects can be funded annually from the county levied flood control funds, but not some needed major projects.

"The railroad diversion channel would take all the money for several years,' he said.

"We would have to 'bank' some money for a time before letting a contract."

Sorensen said the high cost of flood control projects and the need to compensate for earlier development without flood control plans make the process expensive.

The long periods between rainfalls gives citizens a chance to lower priorities and forget the need, he said.

Roberts said the city has completed or has in process a number of engineering studies to outline methods and costs of controlling the flood and drainage problems.

The study of the diversion along the railroad is the largest and most costly long-term project.

Property is being purchased for retention basins north of Louise Avenue as part of the East Golden Gate Improvement District.

The old gravel pit near the east city limits just south of I-40 has been purchased for a future retention basin taking water from the Santa Fe area away from the railroad diversion channel.

Water from the golf course needs an outlet to the east to reach the Mohave Wash, he said.

The studies have been done but right-of-way has not been found.

Riata Valley, Canyon Shadows, Banks Street and Stockton Hill Road have been studied with some small projects completed.

"We have tried to do some of the small stuff," Johnson said.

"We have had to do things piecemeal with limited funds."

"We use streets for drainage and work toward eventual flood control in small steps.

The cost for storm drains would be astronomical," Roberts said.

"The 1988 study gave us a blue print and a focus on the need.

It takes time with the limited funds of $300,000 to $350,000 a year to work on such a costly problem," Sorensen said.

Flood control has become a part of planning and is now considered with new subdivisions, commercial building and all city projects, Sorensen said.