Spring meltwater can threaten homes and businesses on flat, cobbled streets. The snow is going to do a lot more work for some of us.
“Yeah. This spring has been especially tough with storm drains, freezing, uh, and large amounts of snow and ice on the roads,” Andrew Ackerman said.
He is the Environmental Director for the City of Fairbanks. Crews try to open frozen storm drains so the melting snow has a place to go.
“We ask that you be patient as we have limited capacity. We have three steam trucks working full time. In fact, they are working overtime right now,” he said.
Ackerman says property owners who anticipate flooding should try to clear the snow from their property.
“If you can get a contractor, if you have a lot of snow to haul that snow to a snow dump, that’s the best solution. But if not, if you can get the snow to a place where… a grassy swale or an open space. This is another solution.
Jason Beal is the Director of Emergency Operations for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. He says homeowners could consider a snow-free zone near the walls of buildings.
“If there are big piles next to people’s homes that can sometimes seep into crawl spaces or basements, or even create a little perimeter,” Beal said.
Both Beal and Ackerman serve on the Fairbanks Stormwater Advisory Committee with representatives from the borough, the cities of Fairbanks and the North Pole, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Department of Transportation. Focus is on keeping water going down storm drains to do the housework.
“Make sure everyone knows the storm drain system is directly linked to the Chena River, as well as Noyes Slough and Chena Slough at the North Pole,” Ackerman said.
Managers are reminding residents to keep dog feces or debris out of melting snow so it doesn’t end up in the river.
Ackerman says people who live within the city limits of Fairbanks could call in the event of flooding.
“You can call the superintendent of public works or myself to report an imminent threat of flooding, if it affects your building or personal property, and we will respond as quickly as possible,” he said.
But those who live outside of Fairbanks and the North Pole will need to call their road service area commissioners.
March was cooler, which slowed some of the dramatic melting, and April temperatures are expected to be normal. Beal says they’re also monitoring the Chena River and hope there won’t be a 70 degree spike.
“The dynamic breakup or breakup with the ice in the river, which could also be more towards ice jams. With this type of situation, conditions can deteriorate or change very quickly and water levels could rise within minutes,” Beal said.
And speaking of the Chena River, the Tanana Valley Watershed Association is holding a storm sewer art contest to remind us that drainage water ends up in the river. People can apply to enter the competition on their website: TVwatershed.org anytime before 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.
- The deadline for submission is April 30, 2022 at 5 p.m.
- Artists will paint their creations on the Lacey Street Storm Sewers on Saturday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (weather permitting).
- Winning artists will receive $100 for each design painted.
The next meeting of the FSWAC committee will take place on May 9th.