The Metro-East Sanitary District is preparing for floods to protect residents in the low-lying areas in Madison and St. Clair counties.
With the National Weather Service forecasting the Mississippi River levels to crest at least 42 feet in St. Louis, a 20 percent higher than average, MESD wants to be ready for rising flood waters.
MESD President Charles Brinza said that sandbags are filled and the closure gates are ready to be installed at critical intersections where levees meet roadways and railroad tracks.
“Closure gates allow critical transportation junctures to cross into areas behind the levees, but still protect the property behind the levee in times of high water,” Brinza said
MESD Executive Director Stephen Adler (shown) said that flooding in areas along the river can actually create interior flooding if precautions are not taken. He said most taxpayers don’t realize that as a levee protects them from the river large amounts of water need to be pumped over that same levee whenever it rains.
“Every drop of water that falls within the American Bottoms not absorbed through the soil runs down into Horseshoe Lake and discharges into Cahokia Creek and other streams for pumping,” Adler said.
According to MESD, this requires massive pumping resources. The capacity of MESD’s North Pump Station is more than 650,000 gallons per minute. For the first time in recent memory, all the pumps at North are repaired, and 95 percent of all MESD equipment is operational this flood season.
“Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler sent us here after the flooding of spring 2017;” Adler said. “We found only half the pumps at North worked, which resulted in flooding of Horseshoe Lake and the communities of Mitchell and Pontoon Beach. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and many dedicated MESD staff made those repairs happen.
“We’re as prepared as when the North station opened in 1935.”
Brinza added that MESD is adding $4 million in automation to the same pump stations this year.
”We’re continuing to innovate,” Brinza said. “Automation of the monitoring of pumps prevent equipment damage which historically has resulted in many times the $4 million investment being made. This will also enable reserve pumps to be activated much more quickly than in the past.
“Given enough water, anything can flood. Our plan is to quickly remove more water than ever before. Taxpayers deserve our very best, and at MESD we’re committed to give the public our very best.”