MANSFIELD -- Those awake in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 2007, can scarcely recall when it rained so hard for so long.
By the time it was done, seven inches of rain had fallen on Mansfield, flooding the north end in what was clinically dubbed a 100-year rain event. Those impacted by the rising waters had less clinical, more colorful, descriptions.
At Mansfield City Council on Tuesday evening, city engineer Bob Bianchi unveiled Mansfield's plan to ensure such a rain would never again wreak such havoc, a $15.5 million bond project dubbed the Touby Run Flood Mitigation Hazard Project.
"Today kind of marks the culmination of a study that's been going on for the past five years now," Bianchi said. "We have studied it extensively. We have got the location of a very large, dry dam. We have got a solution and a cost. Today we are talking about property acquisition and basically the question is: Do we move forward?"
It appears at least some on council have questions, including a plan to pay for the work out of the city's sewage fund, using perhaps $1 million annually in increased revenues from new and more accurate water/sewer meters.
The plan was discussed for almost an hour during council's utilities committee meeting and is scheduled for for three readings at council's next three meetings on Sept. 18, Oct. 2 and Oct. 16.
The queries were led by 3rd Ward Councilman Jon Van Harlingen, who also heads council's finance committee. He primarily focused his multiple questions on the city's increase of sewer rates in 2016 in response to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency orders to improve its sewage treatment plant and collections system.
Van Harlingen said residents will question why sewage funds are being spent on dams and flood protection instead of sewage system improvements.
Bianchi said, "When we enhance the storm sewer system, we impact the sanitary sewage system by reducing the amount of storm water infiltrating the sanitary sewer system. We have always paid for the storm sewer out of sewage funds because of that."
In 2015, Bianchi said Mansfield's sanitary system is not equipped to handle the amount of storm water it’s currently receiving. Mansfield's plant is equipped to consistently handle 12 million gallons a day, Bianchi said, adding the plant might see 60 million gallons on a day during certain rain events.
The project outlined by Bianchi on Tuesday has three components, including a large dry dam at the west end of North Lake Park, including a concrete spillway. At its highest point, the dam would reach 45 feet. Other components include a regional detention basin at South Park and a North Main mass fill.
"This whole project, if you look at the biggest event we've had in recent history, namely Aug. 21, 2007, that was a 100-year rain event. This infrastructure was basically designed around containing that particular event," Bianchi said.
The project would reduce the flood plain in that area by about 106 acres, according to the engineer. 1st Ward Councilman David Falquette said that could lead to enhanced economic development in the area by those reluctant to invest in an area plagued by high water and high insurance costs.