EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County officials are considering use of sales tax funds to finance continuing improvements to the Horseshoe and Long lakes drainage systems — projects aimed at reducing flooding and protecting properties in the American Bottom during heavy rains.
“We need to do more to improve drainage,” County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said. “To start we are looking at dredging part of Horseshoe Lake and replacing the outfall structure.”
Metro East Sanitary District made improvements in its system last year, but more work is needed. He said the level of Horseshoe Lake was lowered to increase water storage capacity and the ditches and canals were cleaned of sediment to improve the flow of storm water.
Planning and Development Administrator Matt Brandmeyer said while levee improvements are being completed to protect low-lying areas, the interior flooding has not been addressed. He said drainage issues are what causes the interior, or surface, flooding.
An outfall is a discharge point of a waste stream into a body of water and within MESD it’s the storm sewers emptying into the lakes.
Brandmeyer said more comprehensive improvements are needed and include increasing Horseshoe Lake storage capacity, improving drainage of Long Lake, maintenance and improvements to Cahokia Canal, County Ditch and Brushy Lake would make a difference.
Prenzler said officials are looking into using sales tax money as a way to pay for the projects.
“The county collects a .25 percent sales tax that we believe can be used for flood prevention,” he said.
In 2008, voters in Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties approved the .25 percent sales tax (Flood Prevention Retailer’s and Service Occupation Tax) in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s announcement to “de-accredit” the 74-mile levee system protecting the American Bottom. Each county maintains its own Flood Protection District and the three form the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention Council, which uses the sales tax for repairs and restorations of the levees.
Brandmeyer said the county is evaluating the state statute and elements of the current framework in order to ensure all steps are properly completed. The County Board oversees the budget of the Flood Protection District.
“These projects are important in improving drainage issues and protecting people in the American Bottom,” Prenzler said.
PHOTO: Horseshoe Lake.