Worst Flooding since 2009 Poses Threat to Area Homes & Lakes

Monday, February 26, 2018 - 5:03pm

Worst Flooding since 2009 Poses Threat to Area Homes & Lakes

After the past week of intense rainfall on frozen ground, our area lakes and rivers are now at or near the 100-year flood stage. Water levels are expected to peak today or tomorrow, as water moves into the Tippecanoe River from across the watershed. 

A watershed works like a funnel, moving water downstream and draining to a particular body of water. The Tippecanoe River watershed begins north of Columbia City. Eventually, the water in the green area all passes through the Dam at Oswego then, down the Tippecanoe River to the Warsaw-area.  

The Tippecanoe River at Oswego is at 8.77' which is the 5th highest level recorded since 1943.
Historic Crests Recorded by USGS:

(1) 9.40 ft on 05/21/1943
(2) 9.25 ft on 03/21/1982
(3) 8.96 ft on 03/15/2009
(4) 8.89 ft on 03/04/1985
(5) 8.77 ft on 02/26/2018

Homeowners, renters, businesses and private non-profit organizations that sustained uninsured damage caused by severe storms and flooding starting on or after February 15 can report damage online at: https://tinyurl.com/GovDamage. This information is used for damage assessment purposes only and is part of the State's process to determine if damage is sufficient enough to request a disaster declaration from the President.

The highest amounts of polluted runoff drain into our lakes and rivers during heavy rains. This runoff carries soil, nutrients, and bacteria into our waterways. TWF works with landowners to reduce this type of pollution at its source in the watershed - before causing problems like siltation and weed & algae growth.

Flooding can also pose a health risk to humans and animals. Residents of local lakes and other rural areas that do not have a sewer system need to be aware that if your household uses a typical septic system, heavy rains and floods can halt its ability to treat wastewater from your home.

When flood waters pond over the septic drainfield, there is no place for wastewater from the household plumbing to drain because the drainfield and soil beneath are saturated. When septic drain fields are saturated, contaminants from your wastewater can enter and pollute ground water (your source of drinking water), as well as lakes and other surface waters. The less water sent to the system, the better. 

A few tips: (more information at https://tinyurl.com/SepticFirstAid):

• Re-route water from gutters away from the drainfield.
• Don’t use the dishwasher or garbage disposal.
• Reduce the number of showers or baths. 
• Wash clothes at a laundromat.
• Turn off the water softener, so it does not regenerate.
• Consider drinking bottled water.

After flooding has receded, it is important to remember that if a septic system has been flooded, nearby wells may also have been inundated. If water IS OVER YOUR WELL, contact the Health Department at (574) 372-2349 for well testing. Use an alternate drinking water source until you can test and disinfect your water supply.

TWF was founded in 1997 to protect and improve water quality in the Upper Tippecanoe River Watershed; spanning from Crooked Lake in Whitley County to the Warsaw-Winona area. Over the past 20 years, TWF has worked with farmers and lake residents to implement over 200 water quality improvement projects. In the last four years alone, these efforts have prevented over 815 million pounds of weeds and algae from growing in area lakes and rivers. Much more information is available at WatershedFoundation.org .