South Dakota City Razing Homes to Keep Neighborhood Dry

August 30, 2016

The city of Sioux Falls, S.D., hopes razing flood-prone houses in the central part of the city will help keep other homes in the neighborhood dry when heavy rains hit next.

Homes near Augustana University can get rain-flooded basements, even after recent spending on infrastructure upgrades including holding ponds for diverted runoff, the Argus Leader reported.

About five years ago, Sioux Falls Public Works started eyeing the creation of more green space in the area by tearing out existing homes. Based on the watershed, there wasn’t an alternative that fit better than asking for voluntary buyouts, but homeowners weren’t ready, said Mark Cotter, director of Public Works.

After more recent heavy rains, interest picked up and Public Works has purchased properties in the area and demolished them. Roughly $1.2 million has been spent so far purchasing the nine homes that were recently torn down.

The foundations will be filled with sand for permeability and absorption, Cotter said. It will take time to see if the program is effective, and Cotter said more homes will be bought if deemed necessary and as budgeting allows.

“Over time as we capture more homes that are willing to sell voluntarily, if it makes sense we’ll develop a detention pond so we can hold and slowly release (the storm drainage),” he said.

The department takes unanticipated savings and puts the money toward the program.

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