By James Gingerich for East Valley Tribune
After the flooding Mesa experienced last year that inundated parts of the city with up to a foot of water, there has been a concerted effort by city officials and state agencies to ensure the city is prepared should that once-in-a-1,000-years storm present itself again.
In partnership with the Maricopa County Flood Control District (MCFCD) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the City of Mesa made improvements to the drainage system in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but the greatest improvements planned between the agencies are forthcoming.
The most serious flooding occurred at Emerald Park where the failure of water pumps and the overflow of canals caused by weirs — concrete barriers meant to slow the flow of water — caused hundreds of residents to be uprooted from their homes and Keller Elementary School to close temporarily.
Emerald Park is one of the largest water retention basins in Mesa, built to handle a once-in-100-years storm, but the storm last year far exceeded those expectations. So the city applied for a grant from the MCFCD for the construction of a spillway that would direct water into the canal system through a culvert.
With help from the new grant money, the former campus will be partially turned into a new drainage basin that will prevent future flooding — many of the standard improvements to the berms and pump systems have already been implemented. As well, the city has separate plans to place several youth sports fields at the closed school.
In addition to the Emerald Park and Solomon Road neighborhoods, three other Mesa neighborhoods have been earmarked by ADOT and MCFCD for improvements. According to ADOT, the Royal Palms and the 10th Avenue and Sirrine neighborhoods will have drainage improvements installed, and a new retention basin is planned for the area around 9th Avenue and Horne Street.
The cost of the improvements are expected to amount to $5.4M. In terms of funding, $1M will come from grants from the MCFCD’s Small Projects Assistance Program, the greatest amount that could have been granted, with the other $4.4M coming from the city of Mesa’s general fund.
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