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    Overflowing manholes and closed lakes; Flooding repairs continue in Greene County

    By Parker Padgett,


    GREENE COUNTY, Mo. — Workers in Greene County are still working on repairs after overwhelming flooding hit the Ozarks this past weekend.

    Enough flooding for City Utilities of Springfield to temporarily shut down public access to McDaniel and Fellows Lake.

    “Sunday night we made the decision that we weren’t going to open up the gates to the public on Monday morning,” Joel Alexander, Head of Communications for CU said.

    Alexander said access was opened Tuesday morning.

    The reason for the closure? Debris that floated into the lake from the floods.

    “There was just enough debris from that heavy, heavy rainfall that was out there on that side of the Ozarks. We just had to do something to make the precautions and make the lake safe and get that debris off of there,” Alexander said. “For heavy floods and rain like this, I can’t really think of a time we’ve had to do that.”

    According to Alexander, it wasn’t just the water affected by the debris.

    “[At Fellows Lake], there is a boat dock on there, and while there wasn’t any damage to the dock, there was enough flow from the current with the flooding that it did shift the dock just a little bit,” Alexander said.

    With McDaniel and Fellows providing the same water Springfieldians can access in their kitchen, it’s important to get as much out as possible.

    “The bottom line is those [lakes] are our drinking water supplies,” Alexander said. “Fellows needs to be as clean as it possibly can, and McDaniel does, too.”

    Inside city limits, Brandon Freeman leads several workers in the Environmental Services division for the city, and this week they’re looking to repair damages that have resulted in overflowing manholes in town.

    “We’re dealing with sanitary sewer overflows, which are caused by wet weather,” Freeman said. “All the combined rainwater that gets in inundates the sewer, which was designed just for dry weather flows and at certain points a very small percentage of points in the system actually become choke points. It comes up out of the system.”

    Freeman said it takes a team to address the litany of manholes across the city.

    “There’s 33,000 manholes in the system, and right now I think it’s around 70 to 80 that we’ve identified have overflows,” Freeman said. “Some of them are very small. It’s a less than 30 minutes of work to get it cleaned up, and some of them take a whole team of machinery, sometimes a team of 10 to 15 people with skid steers or excavators. It takes a team of about 40 people and about a week to do the evaluation to clean up during big rain events.”

    He said overflow looks different per site.

    “Anybody walking by, it probably looks like river water, [but it] was coming out, spraying out of the filter onto the rock,” Freeman said. “Some of our overflows will look like a fountain. It’ll be coming up out of the ground. It’ll sometimes get pretty high.”

    Freeman said they place signs at spots they’ve marked or are currently working on and ask those who see them to avoid the manhole area, and you can contact environmental services if you believe a manhole near your home might be affected.

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