CHOTEAU — The city of Choteau declared a state of emergency last month after continuing flood conditions stemming from Spring Creek began to strain the city’s wastewater system.
Now, about five weeks later, Chouteau's mayor Chris Hindoien, said the creek looks ‘better than it has in 20 years, thanks to the city’s flood control methods.
“We’re very, very pleased to see that - as we’re standing here looking at the ice - the creek is more than a foot down from where it was when we froze,” Hindoien said.
However, the week of January 13th , ice jams from the Teton River restricted the river’s flow and released the high-pressure waters into Spring Creek. The debris-filled creek couldn’t handle the onslaught of water and overflowed into Choteau’s streets, basements and parks, prompting Hindoien to issue a state of emergency.
Hindoien and the city of Choteau proposed a solution: to remove the creek’s debris, the source of the creek’s high water levels.
“We took the opportunity to work with our governmental agencies; Fish, Wildlife and Parks, DNRC, and, nationally, with the Army Corps of Engineers, and our landowners, to put together a permit to get in here and clean up some of the debris that’s in the crick,” Hindoien said.
Hindoien said the flooding concerns were mitigated in just four days’ worth of work.
“It was a for-day project and we had to go with mother nature. We didn’t want our crews, our workers out there, in the creek in their waders this time of year working where it’s gonna be below freezing,” Hindoien said.
He explained the creek began flowing faster and the water levels dropped after four dumpster trucks full of tree limbs and trash were removed.
“The creekk has picked up the pace in flowing. The water table has dropped in Choteau and our residents who were pumping literally hundreds of gallons of water are saying we don't have water issues anymore,” Hindoien said.
By getting the creek freely flowing, he kept the water in the creek and out of the city.
“We truly believe that the faster this creek runs and the more water that we can keep running through it, the less likely we are to have issues with people in their personal residences,” Hindoien said.
While flood concerns have been temporarily controlled, the city of Choteau will work on a continual plan to manage similar future occurrences.
“It will be an ongoing cleanup effort. It’s not something that four days is going [to] cure. We will definitely make this an event that we have to do on an annual basis,” Hindoien said.
He also explained that the funds for this project came from the city of Choteau. As mayor, he felt the city’s immediate safety needs justified prompt action.
“It’s something that’s much needed. To us this is a public safety matter and we need to keep the water flowing in the creek and not in people’s basements or out in our streets,” Hindoien said.