The Maricopa City Council received an update from the local flood control district on Tuesday, showcasing some of their recent accomplishments while also reminding council of a few struggles.
One major concern for Maricopa is the potential for redrawing of floodplain maps by the federal government that could negatively affect the future growth of Maricopa.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration works with the Army Corps of Engineers to create the floodplains, and though it is not official, there have been rumors the new maps will likely widen the flood plan.
Those new numbers could affect Maricopa in multiple ways.
The first would be limiting development in the areas now deemed part of the floodplain. The second could be increased costs to the city by forcing them to redesign the channels, making them deeper and wider to handle a heavier flow of water. The third is that it could increase insurance costs for homes that were previously outside the floodplain but are now drawn in.
Recent efforts by the city has moved some Maricopans out of the floodplain by engineering flood control areas around Copper Sky Regional Park. The city sent letters to the affected property owners in July saying their properties have “been identified as no longer being in a high-risk flood zone.”
Though now not a requirement, the city stated in the letter they encourage these properties, and any others not considered a “high-risk flood zone,” to maintain or acquire flood insurance as those homes can still be susceptible to flooding.
During the council’s work session Tuesday, Maricopa Flood Control District manager David Alley highlighted efforts the organization has made to mitigate potential flood damage by cleaning up certain washes and repairing areas experiencing dramatic erosion.
Since 2010 the MFCD has improved a total of 10 miles of flood control channels in and around Maricopa, Alley said, leaving only about two miles of channel waiting on improvements.
As part of their maintenance program, the MFCD continually cleans dumped garbage and landscaping debris from the washes.
Trash is an ongoing problem for the MFCD, Alley said. Nonetheless, it’s a job that must be done he said.
“We clear it, otherwise people get the idea it’s OK,” Alley said.
As part of the maintenance program the district also clears overgrowth, which, though helping with erosion, can cause water retention in the event of a flood.
In both the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa washes reeds, scrub brush and salt cedar have all been cleared to improve drainage.
During the clearing process, the MFCD looks for places where erosion may be compromising the integrity of the channels.
In three separate areas of the Santa Rosa Wash near the Santa Rosa Springs subdivision, the flood control district noticed areas near property lines that had been dramatically eroded away, Alley said.
That particular type of erosion was likely caused by landscape irrigation or other water pipes that may have broken. To fix the issue MFCD “dug out” the areas and rebuilt those areas of the channel with compacted dirt and a two-foot layer of rocks.
Maricopa has dodged a major flood event for more than 10 years, Alley said. However, when it comes, the channels need to be clean and strong.