Guttenberg flood preparedness

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The riverbank behind the public restroom in the 500 block of South River Park Drive in downtown Guttenberg saw significant erosion this spring. The damage will be assessed when the Mississippi River level goes down. (Press photo by Austin Greve)

By Caroline Rosacker

Unusual weather events that have created an inordinate amount of rain and snowfall in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa placed Guttenberg at risk for an increase in flooding along the banks of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  

Stephan Bahls, wastewater and flood control superintendent for the City of Guttenberg, met with The Press to discuss how the city prepares for the spring flood season. 

Bahls told The Press, "I use the National Weather Service for river elevations and projections to see what is coming our way and how the river elevations are going south of us. This year is similar to 1993 with the river backing up to our south." 

He continued, "On this website it lists Guttenberg's action stage at 612 but in truth the south flood pumps go online at 609 and the north flood pumps go online at 612."

Flooding in the area is expected to have a prolonged effect on the Mississippi, lasting a month or longer dependent upon rainfall accumulations. Bahls commented, "Normally our sewer handles about 300,000 gallons of waste water; at present time our sewer system is handling 1.6 million gallons a day."

Bahls described additional community readiness procedures. "The city crew is kept up-to-date yearly with training on flood control operations prior to spring flooding. The four flapper valves on the discharge end of the street drainage pipes are inspected prior to flooding. These are in place to block the river from coming back into the streets," he said. 

He continued, "Meggar tests are done every year to check the pump motors and wiring, and each year the Corps inspects the flood control system. The inspection is then reviewed, and city utilities workers address any major items on the list."

This year the utilities department met with Clayton County Emergency Disaster Coordinator Sarah Moser to review the disaster plan for our community and to address any questions they had concerning the safety of our community. 

Embankment erosion

The Press contacted City Manager, Denise Schnieder to gather information concerning the eroding embankment behind the public rest room located in the 500 block on South River Park Drive. 

Schnieder commented, "We have been in contact with the Corps of Engineers, and they will be assessing the bank once the floodwaters go back down.  There is no damage to the building that we are aware of as of yet, but if it continues to deteriorate, there could be damage to the walls and foundation of the restroom.  We will also be in contact with FEMA should we get a federal disaster declaration."

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