Ponding becoming an issue on school grounds

A FULL WEEK after the flood, and plenty of water — and dead grass — remains just south of the high school football/track complex.

By Per Peterson

While the Tracy Area High School building itself wasn’t damaged in any way during last week’s flood, the large amount of rain that fell and the fact that it still hasn’t gone away a week later has sparked some  concern about drainage on school grounds.

At Monday’s District No. 2904 School Board meting, TAHS Supt. Chad Anderson shared his concerns about standing water to the east of the school building. Anderson said water has always pooled in the area between the tennis courts and the football field/track complex. Typically, any standing water goes away in a matter of a couple days. This time around, however, the water is not draining like it usually does.

“The water has always flooded there and has always stood there for a little bit; years ago it seemed like it would stand there — depending on the amount of rain we got or the amount of snowmelt there was — three or four days, maybe five,” Anderson said. “This year, we’ve flooded three times: the snowmelt in the spring and it sat there for a long time, then we had a big rain awhile back and it sat there for a long time, and now this time it’s the same thing. That water is just staying there.”

Anderson contacted Tracy Public Works Director Shane Daniels about the issue and also toured drainage areas with Todd Hammer, Lyon County ditch inspector and assistant zoning administrator.

“We drove around, and he showed me where all the drain tiles go,” Anderson said. “There’s an intake there (by the tennis courts) and when the water is at its highest, you can watch water bubbling up from the intake. The water that’s coming from the south and west should keep going through the drain and head north and northeast. Not only is it not draining, more water is coming in from our neighbors.”

From the tennis court area, the drain tile goes east, and then snakes around the outside of the practice football field, through the grounds at Greenwood Nursery, toward the bus garage. From there it goes east along Front Street and crosses Center Street into the drainage ditch.

“There is something going on,” Anderson said. “We don’t know if it’s that huge amount of water and how saturated the ground is that’s causing it, but it should be draining faster.”

Anderson said whenever the area dries out, the school will have cameras put in the line to see if it’s open from the tennis courts. He said the old tile could be shifting, preventing the water from flowing through it, or “it could be when you get to the trees by the end of our property, maybe there are some roots growing in there.”

Anderson said he is concerned about the long-term effects the standing water could have on the property. It’s one thing if it kills grass, he said, but he’s also troubled about the water causing issues with the football/track complex.

“There’s tile around the football field, and the good news is that drains pretty quickly,” he said. “After the big rain there was water up on the track, but within a day that was all gone. But is that other water causing some kind of erosion under the track, which we put a lot of money and time into?”

Anderson also said the recent flooding set the solar array project back a few days, but told the board the high water didn’t reach the solar panels themselves.

When the flood level was at its highest, it was still about one-and-a-half feet from the bottom of the panels.

“All the standards are in and most of the panels are on,” he said. “Hopefully by mid-August they’ll be up and running and we can have that going before the school year starts.”

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.