Any time there’s anything more than a light rain in Havre de Grace, water backs up onto some streets – Juniata and Revolution especially.
When there’s a lot of rain in a short amount of time, it’s even worse – whole intersections are shut down.
Most of the flooding is attributed to a lack of drainage for Lilly Run, Tim Whittie, Director of Public Works for the City of Havre de Grace, said.
“The biggest issue is flooding. Lilly Run was routed around the railroad tracks and no attention was paid to capacity,” Whittie said. “As a result, there was no engineering study, it was just dug out and moved.”
When Lilly Run was relocated, the land was wide open, mostly fields.
Over time, the area has been developed with new housing and commercial buildings, and the amount of impervious surfaces has increased, Whittie said.
“The extra drainage and run off goes into the run, and as a result it overflows its banks a lot,” he said.
At the end of July, during back to back storms dumping several inches in just a few hours, the water along Juniata Street was knee high, Whittie said.
The city is hoping to fix the decades-long problem with a four-year, $5 million to $6 million project to restore Lilly Run.
The first phase is in the engineering state and the proposal is being reviewed by the Maryland Department of the Environment, Army Corps of Engineers and Maryland Department fo Natural Resources. Whittie said all three agencies support the project.
Construction bids will likely be put out in the spring and work could start by next summer, he said.
The first phase begins near the intersection of Lewis Lane and Revolution Street, where Lilly Run “picks up huge flows” of water from nearly 40 acres of impervious surface, Whittiie said.
The second phase starts farther down Revolution Street, closer to the intersection with Juniata. The third phase is near the former Harris Field, originally known as Tomahawk Field, where the run takes a sharp turn. The final phase is behind Harris Stadium, where a retention pond will be created to collect large amounts of water to reduce flooding.”
There are two goals to the project: stormwater management and flood control, Whittie said.
“It’s a stormwater management and water quality project. We want to restore the stream to its natural condition as best we can,” he said.
Flooding has long been an issue around Lilly Run, and this project should resolve most of the problems, Whittie said. And even though it’s a four-year project, residents in flood-prone areas should see relief as soon as the first phase is done.
“They’ll start to see relief because we’ll be providing storage at Revolution and Lewis,” he said. “By widening the banks, there will be more places for the water to go. With each phase, we’ll see more and more relief from flooding.”
Part of the project includes developing walking trails along the run that will ultimately tie into ones near North Park and where Lily Run empties into the Susquehanna River.
“Everybody wants folks to get up and out and we do, too,” Stephanie Noye, stormwater permit coordinator, who’s been working on the project, said. “We can enjoy all the great things in Havre de Grace.”
In the first phase, the run from Revolution Street at Lewis Lane down to behind Havre de Grace Middle School and the Activity Center will be restored. The banks will be widened and wetlands created “to provide better water quality and allow more volume, more water to flow through.”
The second phase includes restoration of about 1,000 feet of stream from Revolution Street near Juniata and behind Huber, to where it makes a sharp right turn near the old Harris Field. Similar work will be done along that branch of the run, including removal of two culverts that are half-filled with sediment and impede water flow, Whittie said.
At the sharp turn is phase three, where the city is still deciding if it will replace the existing culvert with another, bottomless arch culvert, to allow fish to get through, or daylight the stream, Whittie said. The second option would require taking away part of the old Harris Field.
The fourth phase, the most expensive, includes a retention pond behind the new Harris Field to collect all the rainwater and prevent flooding, particularly on Juniata Street.