It’s almost like clockwork. Torrential rain comes down; the floods come up. And in the City of New Bern, the flood waters stick around. So now, after a year and a half of planning, the Public Works department is going forth with a project that will greatly reduce the flash flood effect in the streets. It’s the brand new storm water drainage program.
This past June each household within city limits paid a $2.10 cent fee. That money is completely dedicated to drainage improvement. Public Works Engineer, Jordan Hughes says the fee is manageable.
"It's a cup of coffee it really is," says Hughes.
Hughes says the city has been working towards a forward approach, and is glad to see it implemented.
"What we're trying to do is get it off the back burner get it on the front burner and be able to stay proactive. That's really the key here, getting ahead of the Maintenance and be able to keep up with it."
And cleaning these drains will be no small feat. New crews will be responsible for managing 70 miles of ditches, 70 miles of pipes and 4,000 drainage structures. Crews are composed of new hires. Five of these have permanent staff positions, three are temporary and four are filled by inmates. The three newly formed crews will be moving between four “zones” of the city over the course of a year. A month will be dedicated to one of the four zones before crews are moved to the next. This ensures care for a location at least every 90 or so days.
Matt Montanye is a field engineer with the city. He has been supervising the work each of the three crews is doing. He says this problem has been years in the making.
“Some of these ditches haven’t been cleared in… twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years. Some of them have, but most of them have not.”
He says since sediment has been building for so many years, it will be a while in the fixing. Pipes underground will also take some time to clean and repair. Several pipes haven’t been touched in decades. Some were installed in the 19th century.
Pipes will be replaced and ditches fixed after the initial scouring of debris occurs. Once the city obtains a cleared status, the focus will be on upkeep.
So eventually when the rain comes down, the water will run off.