By Jim Stanford on January 21, 2014
Flooding caused by ice formation along Flat Creek came to a head this weekend, and the town again had to assist homeowners in breaking up the ice.
After being contacted by constituents in the neighborhood, I went out there with Mayor Mark Barron on Saturday to survey the flooding, ice buildup and efforts by residents to protect their property. The flooding affected homes from Stacy Lane to Crabtree Lane and was some of the worst people had ever seen.
In a matter of hours Friday, I’m told, the level of the water and ice rose about 3 feet. This came after I tried to walk the pathway behind the post office Thursday and found it impassable.
Putting heavy equipment into the creek to break up the ice is not a delicate operation, despite the operators’ best efforts. The ice was 3 feet thick or more, and anchored to the stream bottom in places. For every trackhoe breaking it up, two more were needed to scoop up the loose ice floating downstream, else a jam could form and cause even worse flooding.
This is not a long-term solution, nor are the thaw wells the town has utilized to pump warmer groundwater into the creek to keep ice from forming. Besides being of limited effectiveness, in one winter these thaw wells pumped more than 300 million gallons of water from the aquifer into Flat Creek.
Obviously, this is yet another example of why it’s not a good idea to build in a floodplain. Once upon a time, this area would have been a beaver pond. Streams are dynamic and move around. But that’s all, um, water under the bridge.
Residents are in the process of forming a watershed district to work on solving the problem themselves. In the coming weeks the town will be gathering stakeholders, along with the Teton Conservation District, to try to come up with a better strategy.
Anyone wishing to access the Garaman Pathway better bring skates.