By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — TIPTON – The Big Cicero Creek Joint Drainage Board will spend up to $41,000 studying the cost, benefits and potential impact on areas south of Tipton of an overflow channel for Big Cicero Creek.
Finding a solution to flooding along Big Cicero Creek became a priority for the board and city of Tipton following a record flood April 19.
Tipton County surveyor Jason Henderson said current estimates are construction of a bypass channel will cost between $20 million and $30 million. The board has just $499,000 available and is considering two other projects to alleviate erosion of the banks at a potential cost of $1 million.
Several options have been discussed to alleviate flooding, including widening the creek bed and building a reservoir.
Siavash Beik, with Christopher Burke Engineering, said shelving or widening of the creek bed would cost more because it would involve 19 miles of Big Cicero Creek from Tipton County to the Morse Reservoir in Hamilton County. Christopher Burke Engineering was selected by the board Wednesday to complete the study.
“The impact would be less,” Beik said. “We would have to double the size of the creek to deal with potential flooding.”
An original plan for the construction of a shorter bypass channel had an estimated price tag of $10 million, he said.
“You have to look at the benefits in Tipton and the impact downstream,” Beik said. “This proposed bypass is larger. What is the potential cost?”
Property owners within the Big Cicero Creek watershed pay 50 cents per acre or $8 per residential parcel in maintenance assessments. That has never increased, Beik said.
“I don’t like to see taxes raised, but we may have to look at an increase,” he said.
Downstream concerns have also been raised. In a letter from the Hamilton County Drainage Board regarding the bypass project, surveyor Kenton Ward said there are problems in Hamilton County that leaders don’t want made worse. Tipton County Commissioner Mike Cline, president of the drainage board, said the letter indicated Hamilton County wanted the water stored in Tipton and gradually released to Morse Reservoir.
Beik said construction of a reservoir in Tipton County would cost about $66 million.
Board member Ken Hedge said until a study is done the drainage board won’t know the benefits and impacts.
Bert Weaver, a board member, said the board wants to do the project right and not continually do patch work that doesn’t resolve the problem.
In 2009, the Big Cicero Creek board proposed a $2.7-million plan to bench, or widen, the creek to hold more water and a gradually release it downstream. That proposal died when local residents weren’t willing to pay the cost.
Beik said in May the board has three options: Do nothing, a smaller project like benching, or the larger bypass project.
“Either option will send water more rapidly downstream,” he said. “Is that tolerable in Hamilton County?”
Beik said a bypass will address 95 percent of the problems during a 100-year flood as compared to 40 percent of the flooding issue if the benching project moves forward.