Inquirer: The raging river on Norris nothing unusual

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 16, 2014 

A couple of Concerned Readers have called recently about a mysterious leak that's sending thousands of gallons of water rushing downhill on Norris Road near University Avenue.

"It's been going on for weeks," one Anonymous Reader reported. "Sometimes it's really heavy … looks like a small river."

I rode by to take a look and they weren't kidding. The flow originates from some sort of drain near the two big water tanks at the top of the hill on Norris. Being a trained professional observer of things, I surmised that there just might be a connection.

As my boss, a former Army officer, often says, "Private Gump, you're a (beep-beep) genius!"

So I called Steve Davis, president of the Columbus Water Works, who explained that all is well. They are just draining one of the two tanks so it can undergo a routine inspection.

If you're wondering just how much water will go down the drain, the answer is about a half-million gallons.

Also, in case you were wondering, the tanks are for maintaining water pressure in the distribution system, for use at peak-use hours and to guarantee sufficient pressure in case there's a fire.

So why are there usually two such tanks together?

Davis said when the Water Works finds a good location, which is at or near the highest point in an area, they use it for two tanks because really good locations are rare. It also allows them to drain one for inspections or repair and still have one on line. I'd always assumed one was for cold water and one was for hot.

And no, this isn't going to make your water bill go up. They're the Water Works. They get the stuff for free.

Update

Good news from Savannah Drive, where we reported last week on some erosion along the bank of a stormwater drainage creek that was threatening a homeowner's backyard.

I called Public Works Director Pat Biegler, who said she would look into it. Well, she reported back that she and others had inspected the situation and the city is going to do what it can to rectify the situation.

As you no doubt recall, an old retaining wall had been damaged by a falling tree and it appeared to be channeling the water into the homeowner's bank, causing the erosion.

Biegler said there's no telling how old the retaining wall is, but they think it was probably built by the old county government, before that area was even in the city limits.

"We don't build walls like that anymore," Biegler said. "But the wall seems to be what's causing at least some of the erosion, so we're going to do something about it. We're just not sure exactly what that will be yet."

Biegler said the city will have to do considerable work devising a plan to address the problem. The difficulty is exacerbated, she said, because it will be hard to get equipment into the creek. Also at issue are three or four trees whose root systems have been compromised by erosion.

"We may have to take some trees out, but we want to save them if we can. The root system is what's holding the bank together," Biegler said.

All this is great, as far as it goes, but the city told the homeowner that it would shore up the bank for only about half the length of the lot, because that's where the problem created by the collapsed wall is, not farther down. So they may still be looking at losing part of their yard or making an expensive repair.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at mowen@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8570.

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