Water, water everywhereThree rounds of heavy rains pounded Jamestown throughout Sunday as people lost power and manhole covers burst open from the pressure on the storm sewer system.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Three rounds of heavy rains pounded Jamestown throughout Sunday as people lost power and manhole covers burst open from the pressure on the storm sewer system.
“This type of rain event is a very complicated juggling act when you have a river full of water,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made three reductions to Jamestown Reservoir’s releases Sunday, taking them down to 700 cubic feet per second by 4 p.m. The lake was releasing 1,200 cfs Saturday. Pipestem Reservoir’s releases stayed steady at 600 cfs.
“It isn’t easily released into the river because the river is already full,” Bergquist said.
According to the National Weather Service, a gauge on the James River near Interstate 94 showed a stage of 12.75 feet at 4:15 p.m., which is roughly a foot higher than it had been before the rain arrived. Bergquist said that translates to more than 2,300 cfs.
The river level elevation started going back down after the storm. It was measured at 12.35 feet at 7:30 p.m.
It takes about four hours for release changes from the two reservoirs to make their way through the city.
2011 has already been a wet year for Jamestown with 9.27 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1 — more than 1.5 inches above normal. This was before Sunday’s rain, which was measured at exactly 2 inches around 3 p.m., according to a measurement at the North Dakota State Hospital.
Across Jamestown the city had 12 pumps set up moving storm water into the river, and the main lift station had all four pumps running for the first time since 2009, Bergquist said.
“Any additional rain event, most of it’s going to be runoff,” he said. “We have no capacity in the soil right now.”
In addition to soil capacity, the city storm sewer filled fast with rainwater.
The pressure made four manhole covers burst open in southeast and northeast Jamestown in a two-hour period.
The storm also caused a two power outages around 11 a.m. in northwest and southeast Jamestown. Several streets were closed along with the viaduct on Fourth Avenue Northeast.
In addition to downing a tree, the storm caused a sewer backup in one southeast residence.
“It would be wise for everybody to reduce their use of the sanitary sewer as much as possible,” Bergquist said.
He mentioned that the odd/even plan for heavy water usage is still in effect. Even-numbered houses should do laundry or run dishwashers on even-numbered days while odd-numbered homes should perform those tasks on odd-numbered days.
A break from all the water is forecasted for this week, said Todd Hamilton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
“At least in the short term there is some hope to return to a more typical summer pattern this week,” Hamilton said. Temperatures could reach 90 degrees by midweek.
Currently the area is in the middle of a cool and wet weather pattern, Hamilton said. This time of the year is also typically the wettest of the year, he said.
“We’re definitely in a cool and wet pattern and until we can break it we’ll probably see more of the same,” he said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org