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The Water Flows Through It: City's Stormwater Drainage Project Beneficial

LONOKE COUNTY, AR – Residents in several subdivisions located in the City of Cabot kept a watchful eye on their property during heavy rainfall. All too often water would find its way out of ditches and other low-lying areas and would creep into yards and homes in the area. To reduce the flood risk, the City of Cabot, located in Lonoke County, implemented a series of flood-control projects which were partly funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

Initiated following the March 2, 1997, disaster declaration (DR-1162 Severe Storms/Tornadoes), the stormwater-management projects were approved for funding in August 2000 and completed February 2002. Surface water runoff posed a problem in several neighborhoods. The mitigation projects designed to alleviate this problem involved the construction of a diversion channel in Meadowlark Ditch, construction of approximately 19,000 feet of drainage channel, construction of retention basins and replacing undersized culverts with larger ones. Total project cost was $1,066,200 which included $799,800 (federal share) and $266,400 (non-federal share).

HMGP pays 75 percent on approved projects that will prevent or reduce damage from storms and other natural hazards. Administered by the State, these grants are made available for both public and certain private, non-profit organization projects.

Mitigation began with the construction of a diversion channel (a long, narrow excavation that conveys surface water and is open to the air), constructed out of concrete. It also has concrete block walls. It created a change in the natural discharge location or runoff flows of stormwater away from adjacent properties.

The collection, conveyance, containment, and discharge of surface and stormwater runoff in other neighborhoods were accomplished by construction of a drainage channel. The water empties into a lake that was created as a result of community development. (Dirt was dug out of the area to build a subdivision.) The lake has a multi-use, providing a new recreation area and serving as a catch basin or point discharge during heavy rain events.

Detention ponds, low-lying areas that are designed to temporarily hold a set amount of water while slowly draining to another location, were constructed in two areas. They are primarily used for flood control when large amounts of rain could cause flash flooding if not dealt with properly. Normally they are grassy fields with one or two culverts running towards a drainage pipe.

Jerrell Maxwell, Public Works Director, attributes the success of the projects to good planning and execution. “Not only does the water flow through these neighborhoods faster, we are also able to take advantage of the little lake that all of the water runs to,” said Maxwell. “The dirt was dug out of that area to build the subdivision and we found a way to divert the stormwater into it.”

By developing and implementing a hazard mitigation plan that included projects that mitigate against floodwaters, the City of Cabot has made strides to reducing costs associated with flooding and keeping its neighborhoods free of flowing water and safe for residents.

Hazard mitigation planning is the process used to identify vulnerabilities and develop long-term strategies for eliminating or reducing risks to life and property from future hazard events. The process results in a FEMA mitigation plan that offers a strategy for breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage, and a framework for developing feasible and cost-effective mitigation projects. All communities need a hazard mitigation plan. Even flooding of a small neighborhood can overwhelm a community. Being prepared will aid in recovery after a natural disaster.

Last updated June 3, 2020