Spillway will resolve rising wetland waters

After nearly eight years of rising water, a new spillway is going to be installed on Oberlin’s south side.

Resident John Whitman has voiced concerns time and again to city officials that the water at Wetland A backs up on his property at US 20 and Reserve Avenue during heavy rainfalls.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the creation of a dip in the roadway by the wetland this month and installation of ArmorFlex — a flexible, interlocking matrix of cellular concrete blocks — to protect against erosion.

It will be used to create a spillway to the east side of the Ramsey right-of-way, which is used by walkers and electrical workers to access utility poles.

Whitman believes city officials have caused Wetland A to grow in size and have forced the water to back up on his property.

“We have had several evaluations that prove that is not the case,” said Oberlin city manager Eric Norenberg.

The right-of-way will have a six-to-nine-inch dip that is 88 feet long from the level of the pathway.

“So when the water does happen to rise above the predetermined level that’s been approved by the EPA the water will not erode the Ramsey (right-of-way) and we can still drive heavy trucks over it,” Norenberg said. “It’s designed to protect shorelines or where vehicles need to drive.”

City engineer Randall Roberts said in the past when Wetland A flooded the water spread north and south but this spillway will allow the water to travel to the east and will help prevent it from backing up on Whitman’s property.

The biggest concern Roberts had with creating a dip in the right-of-way was erosion to the path but the ArmorFlex will allow workers to drive over it and the surface will not erode.

“We could do it with asphalt but then we would always be back there patching and conducting maintenance,” Roberts said. “It’s a long-term, low-maintenance fix to this problem. It’s not draining the wetland.”

He said the dip will control the elevation of the water. When it gets too high it’ll flow-over to the opposite side of the right-of-way.

“This is an area that gets a lot of use by recreational hikers and bicycles so we want this to be something that preserves that use in the future. But most importantly for the electric customers this is an important right-of-way where we access and take care of our utility poles and transmission wires,” Norenberg said.

City officials are expected to send the design to potential contractors in the next two weeks for the project.

Norenberg in a series of emails this week said the aim is to have the project done by Nov. 1.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.