Jacks Valley man angry about drainage
When you live in the same house for a long time, you get to know the patterns of weather and water and how the two have an impact on your little plot of earth.
You know what a little rain does, you know what a little snow will do, and after 26 years you’ll probably get to witness a big flood or two.
Bill Mattas, 77, a 26-year resident of Jacks Valley, has seen many changes in his neighborhood and specifically on his street, north Green Acres Drive, the lowest drainage point for Jacks Valley.
Right now he is frustrated and angry about the effects that road changes and new developments have had on his street, and it all revolves around water.
“Approximately 12 years ago, Jacks Valley Road was upgraded, and water that used to flow west and south was diverted under the road by a 24-inch culvert, resulting in water from Silverado and Shawnee running into Green Acres,” he explained. “Previous to that, the 12-inch culverts on Green Acres Drive were able to accommodate the rain and snow melt.”
Since the 24-inch culvert was installed, Mattas said rain and snow melt began to exceed the capacity of the 12-inch culverts down Green Acres, causing erosion and driveway damage.
It is a constant battle, he said, adding that complaints to Douglas County road engineers have gone largely unheeded.
“We’ve really begun to feel that they are incompetent,” he said. “Every time there’s a problem, they run a road grader up and down the street. We feel ignored in regard to this drainage problem.”
At a January county commission meeting, the county acknowledged that Green Acres Drive is the lowest area of the drainage basin, Mattas said.
The report from the meeting went on to state, “Historically, Green Acres has been the drainage way for this tributary area. Other than roadside ditches for drainage, the only other method is to install a large underground pipe system.” That system would require an engineering analysis, the report said, at cost of $30,000, and construction costs upwards of an estimated $200,000.
Enter Valley Vista Estates housing subdivision a few years ago.
To accommodate the increased runoff caused by John Serpa’s MSB Properties development, the county outlined its required drainage plan, which included a retention pond, and MSB complied.
Initially, the pond had no drain and in October, 1996 after heavy rains, it filled to within 2 feet of the top, Mattas said. Fearing the earth sides of the pond would collapse, a drain was installed at the bottom of the pond.
Meanwhile, the drain in the bottom of the retention pond was simply serving to funnel runoff down Jacks Valley Road, through the 24-inch culvert and right downto Green Acres Drive.
This was addressed at a January county commission meeting and, realizing the ineffectiveness of a retention pond with a drain in the bottom, the county asked the developer to install a “standpipe” riser, which was done in May.
“It’s just a bandaid approach, though,” Mattas said. “That standpipe is not going to help one bit.”
“We have complied with everything the county has asked of us,” said Paul Starn, MSB consultant. “We recently lowered the basin one foot in response to our Phase Two development, and we do have riprap in the pond, at the outfall and at the standpipe. A developer’s obligation is to create no more runoff than was previously there. What people don’t realize is that in many cases, developments can actually decrease runoff through their drainage structures.”
Bob Nunes, Douglas County community development director, said he feels that short of a storm drain, the county is doing its best to address the drainage on Green Acres.
“We spent approximately $20,000 on ditch and culvert maintenance down there, and what we required of the developer was based on careful calculations,” he said. “If it turns out, down the road, that it doesn’t work, we’ll be right back and working with the developer to make it work.”
Starn said Valley Vista will be in construction for most likely the next three to four years, and as long as construction crews are still working on the project, MSB will work with the county on future drainage problems.
Mattas is a retired flight engineer with American Airlines and also worked for the Army Corps of Engineers.
“One of the first things we learned in road building is drainage,” he said. “Get rid of the water. I’d like to see this retention basin doubled in size. I’d like to see riprap on the sides of the basin. Maybe we need a storm drain down Green Acres. What they have there is simply not adequate.”
Ever tenacious, Mattas again presented his case at a county commission meeting July 10.
“I invited all the commissioners and county officials to come and tour the area when I spoke at the July commission meeting,” Mattas said. “I even offered to buy them lunch, but so far no one has taken me up on it.”
He said that during the New Year’s flood, many Green Acres Drive residents were stranded and unable to get in or out of their driveways.
The road itself had a steady river of water running down both sides, causing it to narrow to one lane, and the clay that had been placed on the surface by the county one year ago turned so slippery that even four-wheel-drive vehicles could barely navigate the muck.
Mattas said that he realizes that the retention pond at Valley Vista Estates is not the only source of water that could flood his street again in the event of another big rain. He knows that water comes down the hill from other sources, also.
“It’s just that this pond is like the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
“This winter, if we have a normal winter – whatever that is – I think the truth will come out, and my point that the holding pond is totally inadequate will be proven as fact.”