Highland News Leader

Plan being developed to alleviate flooding along Silver Creek

A recently released survey of people who own property in the the Silver Creek watershed in eastern Madison County showed that 26 percent of the respondents experienced flooding in the last 10 years, and 45 percent of that group had damage to their primary home, business or property, including significant crop damage.

“For decades there have been issues with Silver Creek’s flooding and the resulting damage to homes, businesses, farmland and roads. The survey gives gives us data on how the flooding impacts the people who live and operate businesses or farms in the area,” said Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan.

The Silver Creek Watershed begins in Macoupin County, approximately six miles north of the Madison County line, and includes the communities of Williamson, Livingston, New Douglas, Worden, Hamel, Alhambra, Marine, Troy and St. Jacob before ending in northern St. Clair County.

As part of the process to develop a plan that will effectively address flooding in the Silver Creek Watershed, the Madison County Planning and Development department recently teamed with the Heartlands Conservancy to survey those who live or own property within the watershed.

The two-year process to develop a plan for addressing issues in the Silver Creek Watershed began in 2014, the survey being a significant part.

The purpose of the survey was to gather information about the location, environmental impacts and causes of flooding in the watershed from the public. Two thousand surveys were distributed, 477 completed, giving a 24 percent response rate; a typical response rate is between 5-10 percent.

The long-term objective of the Madison County Planning and Development department and the Heartlands Conservancy is to improve water quality and reduce the impacts of flooding within the watershed. The plan will address issues identified in the survey, as well as issues identified by the planning team.

“There have been modifications and improvements made in some areas of the watershed to improve the flooding and runoff. Now, as a result of the association between Madison County and the Heartlands Conservancy, we will have a plan to address the drainage and flooding issues in the entire Silver Creek Watershed,” Dunstan said.

Some potential examples to mitigate flooding could include streambank stabilization, conservation tillage, rain gardens, conservation programs, such as an existing voluntary program is the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Through CREP, program participants receive financial incentives from USDA’s Farm Service Agency and the state of Illinois to voluntarily enroll land in the program.

The plan will identify approximate costs of recommendations, a potential schedule for implementation, and funding sources.

“Once the plan for the watershed is finalized, we can take steps to identify funding and be in a position to effectively do something about this problem,” Dunstan said.