Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year: Cleaning Out Debris

No, we're not talking your closets or your basement.  It's time to clean out sediment and debris that is clogging culverts and bridges around town.

Part of the natural process for a stream is to "pick up" sediment from one location and "drop off" sediment in another location.  A favorite "drop off" spot is culverts and bridges where water slows down, allowing heavier particles (rock, pebbles, sand, soil) to settle out.

Grass growing on sediment clogging a culvert under Nifong.

When sediment fills up in front of culverts and bridges, it does not allow stormwater runoff from larger rainstorms to flow through as easily.  Sometimes, this can cause street flooding during very heavy rainfall events.

Sediment inside a culvert reducing capacity for stormwater runoff.

The Street and Stormwater Maintenance division of Public Works is responsible for maintenance of stormwater facilities.  A crew of four operators plus a supervisor is paid from the stormwater utility to be responsible for maintenance of ALL inlets, pipes and culverts in City right-of-way or drainage easements. 

The stormwater utility crew is currently removing sediment and debris from the larger culverts and bridges around town.

Culvert under Nifong, recently cleaned by stormwater utility crew.
Stormwater facilities are designed to keep our roadways safe and passable for emergency vehicles during most rainfall events.  The Public Works stormwater utility crew works year round to keep Columbia's stormwater facilities in good working order.  Much of Columbia's stormwater infrastructure is reaching the end of its life expectancy, so the stormwater utility crew is very busy repairing and replacing stormwater structures around town.  Meanwhile, as Columbia grows, there are more and more culverts and bridges to be kept clean.

Your safety is important to us!  If you know of a stormwater structure that is a hazard and needs some attention, please contact us at (573) 874-6289 or

Meanwhile, if you see the Public Works stormwater utility crew out cleaning a culvert near your home or fixing a broken storm inlet, thank them for keeping you and your neighbors safe!