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Flood concerns in Corinth

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A few residents have raised concerns about ongoing flooding issues in the village of Corinth, in the Municipality of Bayham.

Chyrlynn Chilcott was one of several area citizens at Bayham’s council meeting on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

“We’ve had two floods. One was last year in November and again this year, just recently around January 13. It was a sudden flood,” said Chilcott. “Corinth has a major water problem.”

She and her family have been living in Corinth for 15 years, in one house for the past 12, and although they are aware of possible water-related issues in the area, they have never had a personal problem with flooding – until last fall.

“We knew that there were some issues, but it’s gotten worse,” Chilcott said, noting her frustration and worry.

“We have spring coming and we may have more snow coming. What if we’re not home next time or what if we’re not there to pump the water out?” she inquired. “We’ve rented pumps, trying to get rid of this water. This year, my husband and neighbor were out there with two extra pumps, pumping where the drainage actually is to try to get rid of that water in order for our sump pumps to keep up with removing the water from the houses.

“It’s not even about the cost – it’s about not feeling like you know what’s going to happen. If one day you’re going to come home and you’ve got another flood.”

In addition to voicing her family’s concerns about the flooding at the recent council meeting, Chilcott has also met with nearby neighbours and officials from Bayham, in hopes of finding a solution.

Municipality of Bayham officials told the Tillsonburg News that they are indeed aware of the ongoing problem with flooding in some parts of the municipality, but there wasn’t a lot they could do to help the unfortunate situation.

“It’s been going on for about the last 60 years in Corinth,” said Bill Knifton, chief building official and superintendent of drainage with the Municipality of Bayham. “All of the water from the field runs through the village, and there’s a drain there but it was put in 30 or 40 years ago.”

The drain still works, said Knifton, but it was built for a different level of use.

“It doesn’t work when we have a one inch rain, it works for the half-inch rain.

“It’s not designed like a storm sewer system that you have in a city. This is a rural setting, it’s a farm community and the drain is designed for drainage for the farmlands,” Knifton continued. “It just so happens that the village is in the middle of it, so that’s what the issue is.”

Knifton pointed out that over the years, there have been similar flooding concerns in that area, but residents at that time chose not to do anything about it. In addition, he stressed and clarified how drains like the one in Corinth work and who is responsible for them.

“Municipal drains are a community drain – those people that live in the area pay for the drain. The municipality just maintains the drain and makes sure it works. If they want to improve the drain or extend the drain, then they have to go through a procedure under the Drainage Act. That’s what we’ve initiated during the last council meeting.

“Years ago, they went through that whole process – different land owners and they had proposed a whole new design and they shot it down, they didn’t want to pay” he added. “So it never got built.”

“It’s not the municipality’s responsibility, it’s the landowners’ responsibility because it’s a municipal drain owned by the municipality and serviced by the municipality, but it’s only a user-pay community,” explained Knifton. “This is built by a contractor, hired by the municipality, paid for by the people in the drain (area) – they had the right to say yes or no years ago and that’s the way it is.”

During the council meeting at the end of January, Knifton informed members of the flooding concerns raised by Chilcott, and the Municipality agreed to look into the situation and bring in an engineer to evaluate what work, if any needs to be done – including the possibility of making the drainage pipe bigger.

“Council agreed that we have issues, people want to get it improved so we’ll look at improving it,” said Knifton. “But that’s a lengthy process – it doesn’t happen overnight.

“We don’t go an make the pipes bigger without an engineer and we don’t do that until there’s a reason to. And the reason would be somebody that’s in the watershed, which is within the limits of the drain, makes a complaint to council. And it’s council’s responsibility to make sure that the drain is maintained and they do that by hiring a drainage superintendent.”

That maintenance includes inspecting the drainage pipe on a regular basis – yearly, bi-yearly or whenever it is deemed necessary to ensure the drain is operating.

The Municipality of Bayham will pay a portion of the costs involved, said Knifton, because there are roads in the village of Corinth.

“The roads there are assessed into the drain because the water off the road goes into the drain - so Bayham itself is the landowner because they own the drains and will pay their share for the portion of the water that comes off the roads. The same with every landowner in there – they will pay their share based on the water that comes off their property into the drain.”

Following the council meeting, Knifton said he called an engineer the next day to come out and look at the situation to decide was course of action was needed.

“There’s only six of them (drainage engineers) in the entire province, so we have to wait for them to find a slot to come out and investigate and figure things out. I can’t tell you when – it’s as soon as they can do it.”

In the meantime, Knifton said it was an unfortunate situation for some residents in the area, but despite the time-consuming process, the municipality is working to resolve it as soon as possible.

“It actually takes 40 days from the time it’s presented to before we can enact the bylaw and then hire a contractor. So the paperwork through the Drainage Act is very lengthy.”

And while Chilcott and her neighbours in Corinth understand the situation, it’s not an easy one to deal with.

“It’s a waiting game. All I know is we were the ones out at 5:30 in the morning trying to get rid of the water and trying to figure out what to do.”

She questioned the ongoing problems with the drainage pipe and feels that the municipality could shoulder more responsibility.

“There are some things that the township should take responsibility for and that is one of them. I didn’t build that drainage, I didn’t ask for the drainage to be there. Maybe at the time they did put it there, it seemed like the right place to put it, and maybe it was the right place to put it,” said Chilcott. “But it’s no longer a safe place to have it. So they need to either re-locate it or change something.

“(The problem) is not going to go away, unless it’s fixed.”

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