A larger water storage area between Eastgate Crossing and Village Plaza is the top priority in a recently released study of water issues in one of five Booker Creek subwatersheds.
“There’s a certain point above the creek where the (U.S. Army Corp of Engineers) allows you to remove material in the floodplain. By creating more volume there, more space for the water to spread out, the water surface goes down,” said Tom Murray, project manager with W.K. Dickson.
He and other consultants estimated that implementing the major flood-control improvements outlined in the Lower Booker Creek subwatershed study – lowerbookercreeksws.org – could cost the town about $23.1 million. Projects that stabilize stream banks could add another $2 million to $3.5 million to the cost, they said, and improving outfalls, where pipes empty into streams, could be another $2.4 million.
State and federal grants could help with the costs, officials have noted. The town also has a Stormwater Management Fund supported by property owner-paid fees. This year’s budget anticipates about $2.2 million in revenues and $2.3 million in expenses.
The Booker Creek watershed is one of roughly 30 watersheds – land that drains into a creek or river – in southeastern Orange County.
The consultants began studying the area last year, meeting with the public and seeking more information about flooding, particularly in the 1,130-acre Lower Booker Creek subwatershed, from Weaver Dairy Road south to the confluence of Bolin, Booker and Little creeks.
The findings will be presented to the Town Council in January. The plan, once approved, would be implemented over time and as money becomes available. W.K. Dickson could begin studying the Eastwood Lake subwatershed – also in the Booker Creek watershed – next year.
Among the suggestions for the Lower Booker Creek subwatershed are rain gardens and grass medians to slow the runoff from roofs and driveways, along with public education about proper pet waste disposal and fertilizer application.
The study also “highly recommended” that the town evaluate any rezoning requests for their potential to increase runoff and require more stormwater measures. Development projects should be as low impact as possible and also provide green spaces, it states.
Bigger projects that the town could tackle include excavating soil to expand existing floodplain storage areas – such as in the woods behind Eastgate – and create new ones; improving culverts and installing larger stormwater pipes; and stabilizing stream banks.
The consultants noted that solutions are limited in highly developed areas, such as the Ephesus-Fordham district, and in areas with steep slopes.