High water woes


The reservoir on Wabash River, just south of Eldora Speedway, creates frequent flooding problems in the area because of silt buildup in the basin over the years. Shown in this Google satellite image, the river flows north from Darke County into Mercer County.

DARKE COUNTY — As dramatic high water photos have been flooding the news recently, Darke County, for the most part, has been spared. For the most part.

The exception is well known to the people in the area — McFeeley-Petry Road west of State Route 118.

County Engineer Jim Surber said the the problem there is that the Wabash Conservancy District Structure Reservoir, located just south of Eldora Speedway, has become so infiltrated with silt that it can no longer handle even relatively small amounts of rain.

“I’ve been here 38 years, and 38 years ago it was little or no problem,” Surber said.

Silt has accumulated in the basin, reducing the capacity to a fraction of what it was when the reservoir was designed to control floodwaters and protect farmland in Mercer County 60 years ago.

“It should have been addressed 20 years ago,” Surber said. “This is a problem that needs to be addressed. They’re either going to have to remove the silt from the basin or increase the capacity of the outlet so more water can pass.”

Stuck in the middle

Don and Mary Moyers were planning on attending their grandson Jameson Moyers’ first birthday party on Saturday.

However, with the heavy rains causing the Wabash River nearby to overflow, they were unable to get out of their driveway in either direction because of high water in that section of McFeeley-Petry just west of State Route 118 south of Eldora Speedway.

Fortunately, son-in-law Jeff Longenecker and his sons, Jacob and Zac, came to their rescue by bringing along a boat and taking the couple to the Longeneckers’ pickup truck which was parked on some dry roadway.

“We couldn’t get out on either side,” said Don. “So they took us to the party in New Bremen and we stayed overnight at our daughter’s.”

“We could have stayed home,” said wife Mary in a Facebook post. “Our house is high enough [above the roadway], but it was Jameson’s first birthday.”

Don said Saturday’s flooding is nothing new to the area.

“It gets higher sometimes,” he said. “The water has been two feet from the bank before.”

Mostly spared

Apart from that one area, Darke County has mostly been spared from the flooding problems seen in nearby counties.

“We did not sustain the volume of water that some of these other areas did,” Surber said. “The farther north you go, the wetter it gets.”

Darke County also does not get much water flowing into the county from elsewhere.

“There’s only one stream that comes into the county; Greenville Creek comes from Indiana,” Surber said. “Everything else starts here and leaves. We are at the top of a number of watersheds.”

In the City of Greenville, Planning Director Chad Henry said the stormwater system has been handling the rainwater without too many issues. There has been some minor flooding in subdivisions, where the topography and water flow has been altered on private property.

“Inside the city limits our storm system is pretty adequate,” Henry said. “For the most part, every thing that drains to the street makes its way to the stream.”