Flood prevention

CALLENDER – For many years, Callender residents have fought heavy rains and the resulting floodwaters which stood in streets, surrounded homes and filled basements.

Today, the city is taking action to prevent any such future issues.

Prior to the most recent floods in 2010, the city had its sanitary sewer system televised to look for infiltration. At that time, it was discovered that numerous areas throughout town had inflow and infiltration into the sewer system, which leads to the backup in the basements of Callender homes, City Clerk Denita Lee-Luke said.

A total of 54 out of 63 sections of sanitary sewer pipe were discovered to have deficiencies that may have led to the flooding problems. That discovery led city officials to take action to try to alleviate – and possibly eliminate -the problem altogether by lining pipes to keep groundwater from infiltrating into the sanitary sewer system and thus entering homes.

In October 2010, the Callender City Council began the process of applying for a Community Development Block Grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development to start a water/sewer project. The city hired MER Engineering, of Fort Dodge, to help with the project, while MIDAS Council of Governments served as project administrator.

“We worked very closely with MIDAS to get the grant process started,” said Lee-Luke. “We’ve had problems with flooding and this will help get the water some downflow and get it out of town.”

To help generate revenue for the project, the city of Callender adopted a new ordinance for storm sewer utilities at a $5 minimum per dwelling in the community, Lee-Luke said.

“Some revenue to help pay off loans came from that fee,” she said.

In 2011, the city learned it got a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund the $879,000 project.

“The $300,000 is the maximum award for the CDBG grants,” said Shirley Helgevold, local assistance manager with MIDAS. “We expect this to help alleviate the water problems after the rain.”

More than three years after the grant application project began, the city council awarded a construction contract for the project to Gehrke Inc., of Eldora, in June, and in late July equipment was moved in and construction on a new storm sewer began on the city’s south side.

The new sewer lines will run through the Callender city right of way to the railroad tracks on the east side of town to a bioswale, which will help remove pollutants from storm water runoff.

“It’s good to see this project finally come to a work stage,” said Lee-Luke. “This probably wouldn’t have been possible without the Block Grant money.”

Lee-Luke said one unique feature of the project is the bioswale, which will help treat storm water before it enters the state’s waterways.

“Only three other communities have done the bioswale with their projects,” she said, “and those were bigger communities, not a small town of 376 people like Callender. We have been commended by the (Iowa Department of Natural Resources) for taking on a green initiative with the bioswale. It’s the first to be approved in rural Iowa.”

The bioswale will remove pollutants such as road grime, yard chemicals and vehicle drips from the first 1 1/2 inches of rainfall runoff by filtering it through rocks and grass.

“It’s kind of a natural cleaning system before the water goes into the state drainage system; the water filtrates through the grass and rocks so the sediment won’t run off into bodies of water,” said Lee-Luke.

The project is funded by a combination of the CDBG grant, city funds and state revolving loan funds.

“Anytime you can get standing water out and away from a town, it will help,” said Helgevold.