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County: Ellicott City Flood Prevention Projects in the Works

The county is weighing whether large retention ponds near U.S. 29 are worth the cost as other projects move forward.

A make shift wall along a stream in the Tiber Hudson Watershed. The county is working on an initiative to work with private property owners to maintain streams on their property to prevent flooding. Credit: Ellicott City Flood Solution Facebook.
A make shift wall along a stream in the Tiber Hudson Watershed. The county is working on an initiative to work with private property owners to maintain streams on their property to prevent flooding. Credit: Ellicott City Flood Solution Facebook.

The county is preparing a number of projects to manage water quality and retention in Ellicott City including maintaining the Tiber-Hudson watershed and moving forward with upstream engineering projects, according to David Nitkin, the county's communications director.

Residents of upper Main Street have urged the county to construct flood prevention projects recently after the area commonly known as the West End experienced significant flooding during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

"County Executive Ken Ulman is committed to moving forward with practicable solutions to mitigate the effects of flooding in Ellicott City," wrote Nitkin in an email. "Several solutions are in the works, and others are being studied. The County has been moving expeditiously, keeping residents informed at each step."

Nitkin said these projects include a maintenance program for the streams in the Tiber-Hudson watershed. Currently the county is working to form a new initiative that would assist private property owners to maintain the part of the stream that runs through their land. Nitkin said the county expects to launch the program as soon as possible this year.

The second initiative involves five upstream water quality and water retention projects that can be quickly engineered and built, according to Nitkin. Those include projects along Rusty Rim Road, Patapsco River Road, the Ridge Road maintenance facility, Fels Lane and Ellicott Mills Road. The projects are expected to cost a combined $400,000, according to Nitkin.

"These projects are not a full solution, but are steps that are needed and can be taken rapidly," wrote Nitkin.

Residents have asked that the county build major water retention ponds near the cloverleaf interchange at U.S. 29 and Route 40. The ponds, estimated to cost $6 to $8 million, would reduce stormwater by 15 to 20 percent, according to Mark Richmond, the acting division chief of the county's stormwater division.

Nitkin said a study known as the McCormick Taylor study is looking at the cost-benefit analysis of building those ponds. Nitkin added that the county has requested the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will provide input on the study.

"No final decisions have been made about upstream water retention projects," wrote Nitkin.

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