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Base, local communities partner together on storm water management

Servicemembers checked on vehicles at Scott AFB April 18, 2013 as 5.2 inches of rain fell in five hours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Megan Friedl)

Servicemembers checked on vehicles at Scott AFB April 18, 2013 as 5.2 inches of rain fell in five hours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Megan Friedl)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed’s 454 miles of streams drain roughly 126,000 acres of land.  Silver Creek flows south from the project area to join the Kaskaskia River, which ultimately drains into the Mississippi River.  (Courtesy photo)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed’s 454 miles of streams drain roughly 126,000 acres of land. Silver Creek flows south from the project area to join the Kaskaskia River, which ultimately drains into the Mississippi River. (Courtesy photo)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed’s 454 miles of streams drain roughly 126,000 acres of land.  Silver Creek flows south from the project area to join the Kaskaskia River, which ultimately drains into the Mississippi River.  (Courtesy photo)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed’s 454 miles of streams drain roughly 126,000 acres of land. Silver Creek flows south from the project area to join the Kaskaskia River, which ultimately drains into the Mississippi River. (Courtesy photo)

Made up of representatives of federal, state, and local agencies, Heartland Conservancy, and subject matter experts at Scott Air Force Base, the Storm Water Working Group meets regularly to share information and discuss ongoing projects. (Photo by Christi Spargur)

Made up of representatives of federal, state, and local agencies, Heartland Conservancy, and subject matter experts at Scott Air Force Base, the Storm Water Working Group meets regularly to share information and discuss ongoing projects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christi Spargur)

Kenneth Smith, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy commander, provides a summary report of the Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan to St. Clair County representatives, local mayors and city leaders, and Heartlands Conservancy.  The plan outlines ways in which the base and local communities can collaborate together to improve regional storm water management.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Christi Spargur)

Kenneth Smith, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy commander, provides a summary report of the Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan to St. Clair County representatives, local mayors and city leaders, and Heartlands Conservancy. The plan outlines ways in which the base and local communities can collaborate together to improve regional storm water management. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christi Spargur)

Made up of representatives of federal, state, and local agencies, Heartland Conservancy, and subject matter experts at Scott Air Force Base, the Storm Water Working Group meets regularly to share information and discuss ongoing projects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christi Spargur)

Made up of representatives of federal, state, and local agencies, Heartland Conservancy, and subject matter experts at Scott Air Force Base, the Storm Water Working Group meets regularly to share information and discuss ongoing projects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christi Spargur)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan helps to identify ways to reduce flooding and mitigate the damage to personal and Air Force property, and will help prevent flooding like this that occurred in 2013.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman Megan Friedl)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan helps to identify ways to reduce flooding and mitigate the damage to personal and Air Force property, and will help prevent flooding like this that occurred in 2013.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman Megan Friedl)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan helps to identify ways to reduce flooding and mitigate the damage to personal and Air Force property, and will help prevent flooding like this that occurred in 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jaeda Waffer)

The Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan helps to identify ways to reduce flooding and mitigate the damage to personal and Air Force property, and will help prevent flooding like this that occurred in 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jaeda Waffer)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Six years ago, a storm dropped more than five inches of rain on Scott Air Force Base in less than six hours, causing flash floods across the base. Parking lots were submerged, Airmen couldn’t get to their cars, and several buildings, including the 375th Air Mobility Wing headquarters, were damaged.

There were several factors that caused the flooding that year and in the years that followed. So, to mitigate or prevent any future flooding events, a Storm Water Management Working Group was formed with base and community members as part of the base’s ongoing Community Partnership P4 (public-public/public-private) efforts.

The Lower Silver Creek watershed, a 126,000 acre area, drains into Silver Creek in St. Clair County and portions of Madison and Clinton Counties.  Eight municipalities fall within the watershed boundaries.  With 2,781 acres of land in the watershed, Scott Air Force Base, like the eight other municipalities, is impacted by the hydrology of Silver Creek.
 

“Hydrology is how water flows and the properties of that water,” said Mary Vandevord, chief executive officer, Heartlands Conservancy, a non-profit that works with communities and landowners on environmental issues. “The makeup of the land of Silver Creek and of the land around it both up and downstream - the natural elevation of these lands, the number and types of trees and other vegetation– all of these things impact the movement of the water.”

Silver Creek flows into the Kaskaskia River, but during prolonged storms, the water can cause significant damage before it gets there.  Because Scott and the communities are affected by Silver Creek, together they drafted a Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan, which identifies measures to promote a healthy, functioning watershed.

The plan outlines six primary goals:

  • Improve Surface Water Quality
  • Reduce Flooding/Mitigate Flood Damage
  • Promote Environmentally Sensitive Development
  • Support Healthy Habitats
  • Develop Organizational Frameworks
  • Conduct Education and Outreach

 

Col. Joseph Meyer, installation and 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, explained, “This plan provides a complete picture of how water on base and in the nearby communities naturally flow. It’s a proactive approach to protecting the integrity of the watershed to keep water flowing as it should, which reduces the likelihood of future flooding on base, mitigates water damage, and keeps the mission on track.”

Aaron Nickolotsky, Water Program Manager, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, added, “The plan is important because it brings the stakeholders together to properly manage and maintain the watershed. A well-maintained watershed is integral to ensuring storm water flows freely and smoothly into the river.”

The next step towards implementing the Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan is a memorandum of understanding signed by Scott Air Force Base, St. Clair and Madison Counties, and local mayors.  The memorandum can then be attached to applications for grant monies to fund the plan’s recommended projects to meet these six goals.  The 375th CES is also creating a charter to formalize the Storm Water Management Working Group’s structure and membership.

To read the Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan, go to https://www.heartlandsconservancy.org/cmsb/uploads/lower-silver-creek-watershed-based-plan-final.pdf

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