Flooding Solution Remains Elusive

Maxwell Acres residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the area’s flooding issues as attempts to find answers to the problem continue to hit a wall.

After several floods have ripped through the area in the past few years, residents are concerned how repeated water damage is destroying their property, scaring insurance companies away and affecting their home value.

In what is turning out to be a multi-faceted issue, the Hillview Run Watershed Association, consisting of residents of Maxwell Acres, Hillview Terrace and AAA Mobile Home Park, is struggling with how to address the area’s water issues and who exactly is responsible for fixing them.

Association President Lorri White said the flooding is caused by multiple issues including deteriorating roads, inadequate draining, sediment build-up in the streams and drains, and increased runoff from surrounding hills.

Residents believe the build-up of sediment in the neighborhood’s storm drains is a large part of the problem, and that the drains need cleaned out to increase water flow. However, White said residents will not see any work done on the drains until it is determined who is responsible for them. Since the streets are maintained by the state, the association recently pleaded to the West Virginia Division of Highways to address the issue.

In a letter of response, the DOH claimed all the lines present in the roadways are sanitary and therefore the responsibility of the city of Moundsville. However, a map of water lines given to the association from the city showed several rainwater lines the city believes may be owned by the state. White said until a smoke test is conducted to determine whether the lines are sanitary or storm drains, the association won’t be able to proceed with the project.

White said a November study of Maxwell Acres conducted by the West Virginia Conservation Agency revealed several issues believed to contribute to flooding. According to the report, the subdivision’s roadways are lower in the center than at the berms, causing water to flow down the middle of the street into several catch basins. One catch basin has been filled, creating a pool several inches deep and several feet wide in the middle of the roadway. A drain pipe previously flowed to the nearby creek, but the outlet has been buried.

The conservation agency suggested modifying the outfall of a second catch basin and rerouting the drainage ditch, which would require the construction of a new drainage channel to access the creek.

The study also reported an area on the hillside near McNinch Elementary School is severely eroding causing a large amount of sediment to enter the stream. A cost-sharing project with McNinch Elementary School could reduce the amount of erosion from the hill, they said.

Widening the stream’s floodplain running behind the area’s houses to increase high-flow storage was another solution, although White said residents would not likely want the plain encroaching on their backyards. A solution must come soon, though, as approaching warm weather threatens heavy rainfall in the flood-weary area.