11/02/05 — Corps of Engineers gives OK and widening of ditch begins

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Corps of Engineers gives OK and widening of ditch begins

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 2, 2005 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A representative from the U.S. Corps of Engineers told Mount Olive officials Tuesday they can do what's needed to improve drainage problems in town.

Maylon Weeks, the town's special projects director, took engineer Scott Jones of the Wilmington office of the Corps of Engineers to look at two ditches in town that have caused flooding problems.

Work on widening a ditch on the east side of Chestnut Street coming from under Breazeale Avenue and Chestnut Street between Henderson and Westbrook streets started immediately after Jones gave his approval. The wider ditch is expected to give the water a more direct route from a nearby shopping center's parking lot.

Behind the shopping center is Mount Olive College and more parking lots. The deeper and wider ditch will enable the storm water from the parking lots to bypass flood-prone areas.

Town Manager Ray McDonald said only half of the ditch's culvert was getting water.

"We didn't realize it was full of debris," said McDonald.

The ditch flows to Crest Drive, where the water enters the North East Cape Fear River. Jones told McDonald that the Corps of Engineers would not permit work on the ditch past Bell Avenue. Past that point, it becomes part of the river intake system and falls under federal jurisdiction.

"From Church Street this way is ours," McDonald said. "We can do what we want to it. But the Northeast Cape Fear starts at Bell Avenue."

Jones also looked at another ditch behind some houses on Valley Road off Crest Drive, where the town's engineers are in the process of surveying. Jones said the Corps of Engineers doesn't have anything to do with that ditch.

The town has permission from all the landowners along the ditch except one to run a drainage line behind the houses from the ditch behind Keith and Jo Scott's house. The line would go past the other back yards and into another ditch that leads into nearby Thunder Swamp.

Town officials want to create a pond at the part of the swamp that lies on the town's side of U.S. 117. The pond would become the destination for storm water from Crest Drive and Valley Road.

The Corps of Engineers will design the route for the new line over the next few weeks. Then, the town will apply for a state permit to install the line.

McDonald said the town's engineers recommended running the line from the ditch to the swamp rather than tearing up people's yards to replace a 16-inch line with a 48-inch line to the ditch that goes into the swamp. The smaller line has been backing up, because it cannot handle the flow during heavy rains.

Water flows into the neighborhood from in town, but McDonald said more water comes from the highway.

"The DOT when they built U.S. 117 turned it loose on us," McDonald said. "They could have sent it to Goshen (swamp), but this was the easiest way to do it."

Thunder Swamp comes under federal jurisdiction, but Jones told McDonald he sees no problem with putting a pond in the channel of the swamp or beside the swamp. The only problem is the course of the channel cannot be moved. McDonald said Jones told him it would take more than a year to get permission to change a channel.

"He said he thinks he can get us permission to do a 'drag-and-snag' in Thunder Swamp," McDonald said. The operation would clean out debris that has been washed into the swamp over the years.

Jones and town officials found beavers had dammed up the ditch behind the houses on Valley Road.