City Looking at Wichita River Flooding

The City of Wichita Falls is looking into its options regarding flooding along the Wichita River. City Council heard a report and some recommendations from the US Geological Survey Tuesday.

According to Mick Baldys with the USGS, the major flooding issue along the river stems from the overgrowth of vegetation. The city commissioned a study after major flooding in 2007 and 2008.

The USGS study compared data from the more recent floods and one that happened in 1941. In the earlier flood, the river channel was able to pass more than 17,000 cubic feet of water per second. In 2007, that number was just over 10,000. But, peak water levels were nearly the same for both events, approximately 24 feet.

Baldys said the earlier event must have had more water. If the city saw that same amount of rainfall in 2007, Baldys said, there would have been water nearly everywhere. The 2007 flood only seriously affected the east side of the city, Lucy Park and the Tanglewood neighborhood.

To get water flow rates back to their 1941 levels, Baldys said the city would probably have to remove around 90 percent of the vegetation along the river. A project he compares to doubling or tripling the effort and cost that went into Holliday Creek.

The report also mentioned other contributing factors to river levels. Baldys mentioned bridge structures along Scott and MLK and debris left along the north bank. But, he said, those were not very significant.

Wichita Falls Director of Public Works Russell Schreiber said there are programs that could help pay for removing the vegetation. But, given the current mood in Washington, "it would be an uphill battle."

Schreiber said the city's next move will be to consider the report and its recommendations, then look into how much of the river would need to be cleared, do a cost/benefit analysis and figure out who owns the land along the river.

No action was taken by City Council Tuesday.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.