Sedona, AZ (April 27, 2012) – The summer monsoons in Sedona can be beautiful, with billowing white clouds building in the morning, thunder off in the distance in the afternoon, and finally rain begins to fall. By sunset we smell the rainfall and often stunning crimson skies are the result.
All well and good, but what happens when we get hit with a micro-burst? Sedona has had several in the last 3 years, causing sudden and extensive flooding in certain areas of the community and surrounding forests and mountains. Clogged drainage waterways, undersized and outdated drainage culverts, and just plain too much rainfall in too short of time combine to make micro-disasters.
At the April 24, 2012, meeting of the Sedona city council the Pre-Monsoon Drainage Master Plan was adopted by a vote of 6-0 (Councilor McIlroy excused). With the vote, $50,000 was appropriated from the General Operations Contingency Fund for the work. Currently the fund has $300,000 for contingencies. Mayor Adams commented that “This is a great use of contingency funds”.
The fix is a three pronged effort: Public Education, inspection, and cleanup. The city’s Public Works Department will head the campaign and one temporary employee will be hired to help. While this year’s effort is about to begin, the entire scope of the work cannot be completed in time for this year’s monsoon season. The official start of monsoon season is June 15 and ends September 15. The critical places in the city will be dealt with first. “Let’s not try to do everything the first year”, stated City Manager Tim Ernster.
Private properties located in the problem areas will be inspected by the city, and an action plan will be presented to the property owners. Compliance will be mandatory. Debris cleared by private property owners will be placed for free pickup by the city. Debris from city property will be cleared and removed by contractors paid by the city.
Forest service policy mandates the forest must be left to nature for clearing, which sometimes causes floodwater backups that affects the city and private property.
Sedona Recycles will coordinate with the city for recycling materials.
Charles Mosely, Sedona City Engineer, said there are contingency plans in place for dealing with micro bursts. Monitoring rain gauges recently installed will provide advance information on abnormal rainfall locations. Crews will be standing by for remedial work after the rain, however Mother Nature tells us to let her run her course during the storms.