Friday, July 20, 2001

No flood control is in sight for Mill Creek communities

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Flood control on the Mill Creek remains a distant hope for northern Hamilton County communities inundated with high water again this week.

        The best bet may be the $800 million tunnel that the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) wants to bore under the creek to carry storm sewer runoff and what otherwise would be flood water to the Ohio River.

        “My guess is that it could be 10 years or more to complete it,” Robin Corathers, executive director of the Mill Creek Restoration Project, said Thursday.

        Patrick Karney, MSD director, said that sounded optimistic. He said the tunnel — 300 feet below the creek, 30 feet in diameter and almost 18 miles long — could be completed by 2015 if all went well.

        The tunnel — an MSD/Army Corps of Engineers project if built — would have five inlets for excess creek water and others for runoff.

        Mr. Karney said the tunnel could drain enough water from the creek to keep the stream in its banks and prevent the worst flood expected in any 100-year period.

        Other than that, there is no plan, no federal money for new construction and no agreement on what should be done to the stream that winds 28 miles from Butler County's Liberty Township through central Hamilton County.

        So fractured are the interests that the corps cannot combine its efforts in the two counties and, Ms. Corathers said, businesses that remain in the flood plain invite “serious, repetitive losses” and others are moving in despite the hazards.

        Meanwhile, the Mill Creek does what any silt- and refuse-clogged stream does after a sudden, intense rain overwhelms its ability to carry away water: It floods.

        On Tuesday and Wednesday, the creek again inundated flood plain businesses in Evendale and Sharonville.

        Back from Exon Avenue on Thursday, Evendale Fire Capt. Rick Cruse said, “It was the usual suspects and more than ever and worse than ever. The water is deeper than I've ever seen.”

        He said floods typically reach the loading docks on Exon Avenue, then subside. “This time every business — some for the first time — got water” inside.

        There once was a plan. Thirty-one years ago, the Corps of Engineers was authorized to widen, straighten and pave the lower 18 miles of creek to speed water to the Ohio River.

        Projected cost: $42 million.

        It suspended construction in December 1993, when the price reached $214.2 million and environmental objections escalated.

        In 1998, the corps undertook a $3 million, two-year re-evaluation study to see if benefits of flood mitigation justified still higher costs.

        The study stalled after the corps found complications in its computer models of water behavior in the creek and 165-square-mile drainage basin.

        As with construction, resolving those problems is taking extra time and money: the new deadline is 2002 and $10.1 million.


Flooding recedes, revealing despair
Amid the flood, a calm farewell: 'I love you guys'
Creek's neighbors question flood plans
- No flood control is in sight for Mill Creek communities
City festivals divided along racial lines
Events bring out boycott backers
'I didn't expect anything overnight'
Lynch tells blacks to stand firm on racism
RADEL: Downtown
Architects backed for arts campus
Bystanders play heroes
Girl, 14, saves herself, brothers
Man admits throwing fluids, asks judge for help
Man killed at apartment in West End
Norwood development boom continues
Police officer hurt in crash
Ramp to I-471 closing again
Reynolds passes Senate hearing
States consider assuring Games
UC chief of surgery thinks big
Tristate A.M. Report
Children evolving into thespians
Man weighed 80, was near death, authorities testify in neglect case
More testimony in buyout case
Protesters want 'Family Council' out
Former UK athlete sues board
Forum seeks youth programs
Kentucky News Briefs
State hears advice for North Bend Rd.
Town grows into training-camp role