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Louisville Flood Workgroup Meets For Final Time

Ashley Lopez

The Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District is ready to start working on long-term plans aimed at tackling flooding issues in the city.

The year-long city workgroup held its final meeting Monday.

After various heavy rain events early in 2015, Mayor Greg Fischer appointed the workgroup to find ways to deal with a rising level of rain-related property damage. At the time, dozens of Louisville homeowners were stuck with flood-damaged homes that they were prohibited from repairing because of a little-known city ordinance.

The workgroup included Louisville Metro Council members, city administrators and MSD officials.

As a result of ongoing recommendations, city lawmakers changed a local flood ordinance and MSD spent a million dollars buying out homes that were frequently flooded. Some buyouts are still in the works, said MSD’s Lori Rafferty during Monday’s meeting.

Among other long-term recommendations, MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott said his agency is also going to consider a drainage fee rate increase.

“As the community has now said there is an interest in dealing with drainage and flood mitigation, we now have the opportunity to look at a systematic way of dealing with it," he said.

Parrott said this could help pay for some of the long-term flood mitigation projects, which could include buying up more property. MSD officials said Monday they are looking at 68 high risk areas in the city. For now, plans are focused on acquiring properties. However, officials said they are looking into flood mitigation alternatives for some areas.

As far as a fee increase, Parrott said he will consult city officials before anything is finalized.

“We will be having multiple dialogues between the mayor’s office and Metro Council and, ultimately, the MSD board as to what recommendations we make on any sort of fee increase,” he said.

Parrott said dealing seriously with long-term flood issues in Louisville, though, is going to take a lot of time and money.

“We wanted to make sure that we send a clear signal that we need to have some funds allocated to be able to do a sustainable flood mitigation program,” Parrott said during the meeting.

He said there has been no formal response to a letter the workgroup sent Fischer and Metro Council President David Tandy containing a list of five recommendations.

The group also wants the city over the next year to revisit an ordinance that governs flooding issues. And MSD officials are ironing out an "additional flood risk information letter" for homeowners seeking information about whether they are subject to that ordinance, which limits repairs for homes in the city’s floodplain.