Henderson council OKs Pittman Wash erosion plan; Project GREEN satisfied with solution

An agreement has been made.

After nearly six meetings between the city of Henderson and Project GREEN, the City Council voted 4-0 at its Sept. 20 meeting, with Councilwoman Debra March absent, to proceed with a design of an arch culvert at the bottom of Pittman Wash.

"It hasn't been an easy solution to arrive at," Councilwoman Kathleen Vermillion said. "But I do want to commend the volunteers of Project GREEN for improving the quality for all of us. This is a wonderful long-term solution."

The culvert will be built into the channel but offers more of a chance for vegetation to build on top of it.

Members of Project GREEN agreed this solution was the best to meet both entities' needs and requests.

"We appreciate the consideration put into this," said Evelyn Gajowski, vice president of Project GREEN.

The city had intended to put a concrete block at the bottom of the wash to address erosion problems.

Project GREEN, armed with about 700 signatures from neighbors, thought the concrete would harm the natural stream and eco system at the bottom of the wash.

Despite concerns, the erosion problem needed to be addressed and had cost Henderson's utility services department nearly $5 million in repairs since 2005. The city's public works department spent about $2 million to maintain the wash since 2000.

"We have a need to protect the channel because of the ongoing maintenance cost," said Scott Fiedler, a project engineer who made a final presentation on the design options at the Sept. 20 meeting.

However, the doors to communication opened between the two entities to find the most environmentally friendly agreement while meeting the criteria of the Regional Flood Control District, which required that any project be suitable in the event of a 100-year flood.

"We were all ready to approve a concrete lining until (Project GREEN) came forward," Mayor Andy Hafen said. "We appreciate your work."

Both entities came up with numerous alternatives, which city of Henderson engineers evaluated to determine feasibility.

Alternatives included a riprap line, which places large rocks to control erosion and is already used by Henderson, and gabion drop structures, man-made spillways that drop the water from a higher elevation to a lower elevation and slow the velocity of water.

The other options either didn't work or were more intrusive to the environment.

Fiedler said even though the culvert is more expensive, it will be beneficial to all those concerned .

"It meets the city's needs by protecting the infrastructure and reducing the erosion and maintenance cost," Fiedler said.

Now that the City Council has approved the culvert, city engineers are expected to design it, which could take an estimated six to nine months, said Kathleen Richards, a spokeswoman with the city of Henderson. Richards said that when the design plans are nearly completed, it will be brought before the City Council again.

"We support Public Works' proposal to put the culvert in the wash," Gajowski said. "It allows the natural spring to remain intact."

Gajowski said the culvert allows potential restoration to the vegetation in the wash, as well.

The final decision is expected to cost $700,000 more than the initial $4.5 million estimate. The Regional Flood Control District is expected to pay $4.5 million.

"The additional funds for the project will be taken from city funds administered by the Regional Flood Control District by shifting project priorities within the city's current 10-year Regional Flood Control District plan," Richards said.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.