Round Rock wants to fix storm drain system to prevent flooding

This is a storm drain on Meandering Way in Round Rock. The city says it's not large enough to handle waters during a major storm. (KXAN Photo)
This is a storm drain on Meandering Way in Round Rock. The city says it's not large enough to handle waters during a major storm. (KXAN Photo)

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Joe Kotrla has a lot of animals on his property, including eight pigs. He would have even more, but he says he lost seven piglets during last week’s storms; that’s not even the worst flooding he’s experienced.

“Washing the bank away almost toppled my house into the creek,” explains Kotrla.

A few years ago, floodwaters forced him to move his mobile home back about 50 feet. He says about 25 feet of the banks washed away from under his home on Brushy Creek.

Other homes in Kotrla’s neighborhood are also flooding. On Meandering Way in Northeast Round Rock, there’s an incline in the street. When it rains, all the water
rushes down to the bottom of the street, where at least nine houses flooded during the Memorial Day floods of 2015. The water runs into the storm drains which aren’t big enough to take in all that water during a major storm.

The city of Round Rock wants to hire an engineering firm to fix the storm drain system. A couple hundred acres drain into the Oak Bluff and Greenfield neighborhoods, but the city is focusing on about 20 acres to reduce severe flooding.

“I’m sure it will involve some larger pipes, some bigger ditches,” explains Michael Thane, Director of Utilities for Round Rock.

Kotrla says the damage has already been done. “This should’ve been done 20 years ago, it’s a little late now for a lot of us,” he says, frustrated.

However, the city says they couldn’t have predicted all the growth, especially on land that they didn’t own. The city annexed parts of the Oak Bluff neighborhood a few decades ago.

“As you get construction upstream, there’s a lot of sediment, so those ditches could’ve silted in a little bit, and they may not be able to carry as much water as the intent when they were built,” says Thane.

The Round Rock City Council will vote on an $80,000 contract this Thursday. The money will pay for an engineering company to come up with a new design for the storm drain system. Thane says this phase could take about six months and the goal is for construction to begin in about a year.

The city will also vote on an agreement with Williamson County to partner together for the project and split the costs.

Williamson County is now part of the ATX Floods website, a city of Austin service marking low-water crossings. There are currently 69 crossings closed, 16 of those low-water crossings are in Williamson County.

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