The St. Charles County Council has adopted a resolution first proposed by St. Peters officials asking state and federal officials to explore ways of limiting Dardenne Creek floodwaters from covering Interstate 70.
However, councilmembers and County Executive Steve Ehlmann adopted the measure with an added caveat.
The council approved the resolution by a 6-0 vote at their March 28 meeting after the St. Peters Board of Aldermen approved it in February. Councilman Terry Hollander [District 5] was absent.
The resolution asks the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address the problem of flooding along the creek. The resolution will be sent to the agencies as well as the state’s congressional delegation and the St. Charles County legislative delegation.
Flooding which resulted from eight inches to a foot of rainfall that began on Dec. 26 caused creeks and rivers throughout the St. Louis area to surge out of their banks. Rising water on Dardenne Creek, which flows through much of the central part of the county including Cottleville, Dardenne Prairie and St. Peters, covered roads and damaged several homes.
Briefly, those floodwaters also inundated the eastbound lanes of I-70 at a bridge over Dardenne Creek at the I-70-Highway 79 interchange.
Flooding from Dardenne Creek prompted sewers connected to stormwater lines to back up into basements in some adjacent homes. Flooding also severely damaged at least one home in Cottleville, and limited access in and out of several subdivisions.
Ehlmann said the county shared the city’s concerns about upstream flooding causing water to cover I-70, a major thoroughfare in the St. Louis region. But the caveat is that they are also concerned about floodwater flowing downstream toward the Mississippi River.
“The farmers down there in the flood plain, who have been getting more and more water from Dardenne Creek for year after year after year have been wanting someone to do something about that,” Ehlmann said. Downstream, the results are flooded fields and roadways such as Highway C, he said.
Council Chairman Joe Cronin [District 1] said similar resolutions may be drafted by other municipalities along Belleau Creek, which also experiences major flooding.
“Basically a lot of the farm fields that were in this county are subdivision rooftops and driveways and there is more runoff,” Cronin said. Officials have to deal with the situation on I-70 because it’s too important to allow it to flood, and there are also safety issues with flooding, he added. He said he envisions school buses getting swept off flooded roads.
Councilman Dave Hammond [District 4] said perhaps the only possible way to alleviate flooding might involve the Corps of Engineers building major detention basins upstream on Dardenne Creek above much of the development area. He said that solution may be expensive and he wasn’t sure if the Corps would or could build small basins.
Councilman Joe Brazil [District 2] placed some of the blame for flooding on the building of levees that increase flood heights downstream. He said some levees have been built to protect flood-prone areas using tax increment financing agreements [TIFs] with municipalities. TIFs often offer tax breaks and incentives for developers.
Brazil said the situation will continue to get worse if more commercial levees are built along the flood plain. “Some of the very same people who are asking for help are the same people who built the levees,” Brazil said.
“It [building more levees] fits the definition of craziness – doing something over and over again and expecting a different result,” he said. “It’s not going to work; it’s going to continue to flood.”
“St. Peters built a huge levee and now they are having a flooding problem – surprise,” he added
But other St. Peters officials said after the flooding in December that levees built to protect areas such as the Premier 370 Business Park and 370 Lakeside Park held.
In January, St. Peters Alderman Rocky Reitmeyer [Ward 1], who sponsored the city’s resolution, said the hope was that state and federal officials can “engineer some ideas” to prevent future flooding.
Cronin agreed. “This is too big a problem for the county to take care of on its own, so we’re asking for help,” he said.