Flooding causes headaches often unseen

Posted: Updated:
The City of Wichita says flood waters damaged sewer pipes under this section of S Hydraulic, leading to the sinkhole that developed over the last few days. The City of Wichita says flood waters damaged sewer pipes under this section of S Hydraulic, leading to the sinkhole that developed over the last few days.
Sand getting into this pool had to be manually removed before it damaged equipment not designed to handle it. Sand getting into this pool had to be manually removed before it damaged equipment not designed to handle it.
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"After the water recedes we'll find more and more things that we need to catch up on," said Don Henry, assistant director of Wichita Public Works.

We've had a lot of rain so far this year and it keeps coming down so fast the ground and sewer systems can't keep up, causing damage along the way.
Things like a sinkhole that opened up on South Hydraulic.  It wasn't the water over the road there that caused the problem.  Rather too much water under the road, getting into the city's sewer system and ripping up the pipes.

"We've seen some wear and tear on the system.  So when we see these types of flows they can cause some damage," Henry said.

The biggest problem not the water but the sand the water carries with it.  At least that's the case over at the city's water treatment plant.

"Our wastewater site has had some challenges in sewage treatment," Henry said.

One of the biggest problems, sand making it through the big centrifuge they use to separate solid waste out of the water and getting into the tanks at the next step of cleaning the water, an area not designed to deal with that sand. 

Workers say as the sand pushed it's way into other equipment, it acted like sandpaper, causing damage crews had to repair immediately.

"Just realize with the types of storms that we have had, as intense as they are, that we're out there maintaining the system everyday," Henry said.  

They've had crews on standby 24 hours a day when storms are in the forecast, and working throughout the storms to make sure the pumps keep the water moving through the treatment system.

As for the city's drinking water, there's actually too much at the source right now.

"We started off the year with Cheney full, actually a little bit above full, and the Equus Beds were about 97% full," Henry said.

That's so much water that Wichita won't be able to pump extra river water back into the Equus Beds to save up for the next drought.

And they know there will be other repairs, too.

"In the Big Ditch, in particular, we're going to have some work to do as soon as the water recedes.  So we're really looking forward to some dry weather," Henry said.  

That's on top of regular maintenance that's gotten a short shrift lately.  

"When we're busy on flood control operations that can take away from routine work that we then have to catch up on," he said.

While for now the city says it's able to cover the overtime bill with the budget in place, taxpayers will likely face an extra bill to cover equipment that needs replacing ahead of schedule due to this year's flooding damage.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE