FOLEY – Drainage improvements planned in one older Foley neighborhood should reduce flooding in the southeast section of the community.

The Foley City Council voted Monday, Dec. 18, to approve a stormwater management plan for the Beulah Heights area. 

Much of the Beulah Heights community south of U.S. 98 and east of Juniper Street was developed before modern stormwater regulations. The area sometimes floods after heavy rains.

Leslie Gahagan, Foley environmental director, said the management plan calls for improving the detention pond in the area. She said the pond has filled with sediment, reducing its effectiveness.

She said a smaller reservoir, known as a forebay, could keep the pond from silting up by catching sediments before they are deposited in the larger waterway.

“It’s definitely silted in. It’s going to have to be fixed there, as well as putting in a forebay to collect sediments instead of it going just straight on the pond. They’d have a little chamber that can be cleaned out by Public Works in the future to let that settle down,” Gahagan said. “After they get the pond fixed, a lot of the management measures can be handled in house with regular maintenance activities.”

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said improving the detention pond is a good first step in the plan.

“”It will help even though there are a lot of identified problems over there,” Hellmich said. “It will immediately help. It won’t back water up into the neighborhood and that’s really the problem going on.”

Once the pond is improved, new drainage systems will also be added to move water along neighboring streets to the site. The plan also calls for other outfalls to be constructed to drain areas too low to connect to the pond, such as East Jackson Street, East Azalea Avenue and Orange Court. Water from those sites could be sent to Wolf Creek.

Gahagan said that before other Improvements can begin, the pond should be fixed.She said that in public meetings, the pond was a major concern for residents.

“That’s the biggest concern that they said they had in that whole community was getting that fixed and then a lot of the others can kind of trickle behind it,” she said. “But if you don’t get that fixed, the rest of it’s a moot point.”

Gahagan said city officials are working on securing grant funding to pay some of the cost of the project.

Hellmich said the pond is due for maintenance.

“We knew when we built it, and I think that was done in ‘08, that it would be about 10 years so we actually got a little extra out of it,” the mayor said. “We’ve got to look at it about every 10 years now and with having this preventive catch basin in there, that might keep some of the sediments and that will help keep that perking as much as possible.”