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Ohio River Holding Three Feet Above Flood Stage

Despite additional rainfall, the Ohio River is holding at about 26 feet, three feet above flood stage.

Metro Sewer District Director Bud Schardein says he expects the river to stay there for the next three or four days, even though slightly more rain is in the forecast for Tuesday.

“Were still in a holding patter, we are operating 14 flood pumping plants. They’re doing their job, they’re pumping this rainwater that is hitting the city into the river; and there are no reports of flooding behind the walls or the levee.”

Schardein says River Road will remain closed in some places for a few more days and urges residents to continue using alternate routes.

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With Rain Predicted, MSD Remains in “Holding Pattern” on Flooding

by Dalton Main

The Ohio River is just below flood stage and is expected to stay there for the next few days.

Rain and melted snow from further north have left the river high. It crested Monday morning about 18 inches below the 23-foot flood stage. MSD director Bud Schardein says even though rain is predicted for later this week, the river should remain below flood stage.

“Right now we’re just basically at a holding pattern, and It’s still early in the spring. I’ve seen the river stay several feet above pool for a couple of weeks before and that’s not untypical this time of year,” he says.

There is less than an inch of rain in the forecast for Tuesday night and possibly a half inch for Wednesday. The water level is expected to drop slightly before the rainfall.

The National Weather Service cancelled Monday’s flood watch.

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Local News

MSD Still Pursuing Buyouts To Prevent Flooding

The head of the Metropolitan Sewer District says more storms like the one that caused last year’s flash flood are likely in the city’s future, and he wants to prepare local infrastructure.

More than seven inches of rain fell in just over an hour on parts of the city on the morning of August 4th, 2009. The rain was too much for Louisville’s drainage system to handle, and flood waters damaged homes, businesses, government buildings and vehicles in parts of west, central and south Louisville.

MSD Director Bud Schardein stops short of blaming climate change or other causes, but says these kinds of weather incidents are becoming more common.

“There was about 8-10 inches of rain that fell in Chicago in several hours,” he says. “In June, there were people who died—I believe 20 or so—in flash flooding in the Ozarks due to a very heavy, very intense rain event in a very short period of time and just a week later in Oklahoma, the same thing occurred. This is a trend.”

Schardein says MSD is applying for federal grants to buy homes in flood-prone areas and replace them with green space. The open lots would absorb water during storms and help prevent the sewers from overflowing.

“If we’re successful, and I think we’re going to be with some of these, then we’re going to be able to offer those homeowners the opportunity to leave that area where they’re vulnerable—relocate to another home,” he says.

Schardein says the district is eyeing about 130 homes for buyouts. So far, he says homeowners have been receptive.

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Local News

Sewer Plan Draws Fire; Plan Due Dec. 31st

Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District will hold two more public meetings to receive comments on its plans to upgrade the city’s entire sewer system.  The court-mandated upgrades are designed to prevent raw sewage from spilling into local waterways and update an aging sewer system.  Some public comments have expressed concern that sewage would be routed from the eastern part of the county to the southwest.  But MSD head Bud Schardein says that’s not true.

“The only thing that would be transported if we used that option to the southwestern part of the community would be wet weather flow.  And wet weather flow would be that excess flow that comes through the system during a rain event, and we’d have the ability to treat it there.”

Schardein says the plans are not yet final. But the full plan, with projects totaling nearly $900 million dollars, is due to regulators by the end of this year.

(The last two public meetings are November 20th and December 2nd.  Details are at http://www.msdlouky.org/projectwin/.)