As of Wednesday, waters flooding the southeast Kalispell neighborhood surrounding Buttercup Loop were drying after city workers removed a clump of roots blocking a major drain, which combined with snow melting to create a wet mess.
The previous day, March 15, multiple trucks were pumping thousands of gallons of standing water at the corner of Honeysuckle Lane and Buttercup Loop. Hoses ran from surrounding homes as residents pumped water from their crawlspaces into the street.
According to neighborhood resident George Sprotte, (who identified his address as “341 Buttercup Lake, oops, I mean Loop”), waters had been rising for two weeks before the city began tackling the problem. Sprotte had to hire a water and fire damage restoration company to pump thousands of gallons out of his crawlspace, and as of last week, has the problem mostly fixed.
“It’s dry down there but it’s still muddy,” he said.
The problem, according to Kalispell City Manager and acting Public Works Director Jane Howington, was a, “great, big, huge root ball from a willow tree that had grown into the pipe,” blocking a storm drain pipe leading to a retention pond.
“We thought at first it was hardened muck (causing the blockage),” she said. “Now we know why it wasn’t coming out very easily.”
Howington pointed to the problem as an example of the issues that arise when neighborhoods with private storm drain systems are annexed into the city. Kalispell annexed the neighborhood in 1999, when the subdivision already operated its own private storm drain system.
The language of the agreement stipulated that a homeowners’ association would manage the storm drain system. But, according to Howington, the city doesn’t oversee homeowners’ associations and in this particular subdivision a homeowners’ association either never formed or eventually dissolved.
“This is a good example of why the city hates to have private systems,” she said. “The system was never maintained, apparently.”
The difficulty of locating the problem was compounded by the fact that some manhole covers were located on residents’ private property, behind fences, with no easements in place for public workers to gain access. Though certain storm drain regulations may irritate some Kalispell residents, Howington said, the flooding around Buttercup Loop demonstrates why the city has taken steps over the last 10 years to make storm drain requirements more strict.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.