What a Difference Underground Detention Makes

City leaders pleased with how stormwater projects reduced flooding

Park Cities leaders say recent stormwater projects helped stave off some of the worst runoff effects – even after recent record rainfall.

A late-in-the-month deluge made this August the wettest on record in Dallas-Fort Worth, breaking the previous record of 10.33 inches set in 1915, according to the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth. Dallas received anywhere from 1 inch of rain to nearly 13 inches within 12 hours between Aug. 21 and 22 alone. 

University Park installed an underground detention structure in late 2020 to detain about 11 acre-feet of water under the field on the east side of Caruth Park. That equates to just over 3.5 million gallons. 

Then, in April, the second phase of a multi-year project to improve the city’s stormwater system and reduce runoff in neighborhoods near Caruth Park was finished.

The project involved:

Removing and replacing pipe along Southwestern Boulevard and Hillcrest Road;

Constructing an inlet to channel runoff to the underground detention structure in Caruth Park;

Adding a connection to the outlet on Hillcrest;

Additional improvements to the stormwater system involving infrastructure under nearby sections of Colgate Avenue, Marquette Street, and Airline Road are expected to begin construction in 2023.

“Street flooding was contained within the curbs in the 3200-3300 blocks of Caruth, Colgate, and Marquette, and there was no street flooding in the 7700-7900 blocks of Hillcrest. Importantly too, we received no reports of water damage to the properties that back up to the Caruth Park pond in the 3400 block of Southwestern,” Steve Mace, the city’s marketing and communication director, said. “Since (the morning of Aug. 22), the city has received comments from several residents in these locations. Each person said they suffered flooding in past storms that were far less intense. All reported they experienced no high-water issues during this unprecedented rain event.” 

The city, though, did have street flooding in locations outside the project area, including Turtle Creek and Purdue/Stanford, Lovers/Westchester, and Amherst/Durham.             

SMU also has improved its stormwater infrastructure.

“Over the last four years, the university has invested in an enhanced subsurface drainage system and detention holding tanks, dramatically reducing the impact to campus streets and walkways during periods of high rainfall,” spokeswoman Nancy George said.

In Highland Park, town administrator Bill Lindley expects to have in place by early 2023 a Master Drainage Plan that would “identity, model, and prioritize proposed stormwater capital projects that will be incorporated into the Town’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan.”

Turtle Creek Association CEO J.D. Trueblood said the August storm demonstrated the challenges of caring for an important community corridor.

“Park benches are full of trash and debris from being covered up during the stormwater surge,” Trueblood said. “All of this provides additional evidence the creek needs [to be] dredged and banks [need to be] stabilized.”

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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