The Four Stormwater Facilities of the Apocalypse (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second of two articles about storm water by Paul Snoey. Thanks Paul, for all your hard work in preparing this information.


The City of Ridgefield accepted the four stormwater facilities for Bellwood Heights in 2004. From that time, until late 2009, no one ever went into them, not even once. From the summer of 2005 until March 2009 no catch basins in the city were cleaned either. I brought this to the attention of the Gee Creek Committee and we began to confront the city in the fall of 2008. Because of neglect and not cleaning catch basins, they were loaded with sediment and weeds. A contractor was hired to refurbish these units at a cost of $110,000. The sediment was removed and new sod put down. One facility, at Riemann Road, began to have problems of sediment from the hillslope to the west of it and a hole opened up on the slope above.

Snoey 2a

In mid-December 2010, sediment began appearing in the Riemann Rd. facility. The cause was a drain line from the park above was not reconnected and it gouged a hole mid-slope. In late winter, the drain line to the facility was reconnected, but the hole on the slope was left alone through summer and fall of 2011.

Snoey 2b

On November 22 of 2011, the hillslope began to dissolve from a heavy rain, loading the pond with sediment and sending a plume of bright yellow discharge down Riemann road. To my astonished disbelief, facilities supervisor Tad Arends drove by without stopping. Even after repeated phone calls and e-mails to city hall no one came for over a week. Ignoring damage to city property and damage to the environment is against state law. It was an emergency demanding at least erosion control.

Snoey 2c

In early December of 2011 the city hired a consultant and then a contractor to clean the facility and make a road into the back. Rip-rap was dumped and community corrections crews from Battleground and city employees carried rock up the hill and threw it into the hole. There was no erosion control done at the site of erosion and rip rap was the wrong material.   I sent an e-mail to the city manager that the effort reminded me of Sisyphus from Greek mythology. (A king, punished by the gods, doomed to roll a rock up a hill only to have it roll back down forever)

snoey 2f

January of 2012: After a heavy rain the repair once again blew apart and undid everything. Rip-rap this size has large voids so water flowing through it easily carried sediments on down and into the pond. If at any time the void on the hillslope had been filled with soil, compacted, and then new sod laid of top, it would have solved the problem. You don’t need a consultant or contractor for that. If catch basins had been cleaned and proper care had been given this facility perhaps none of this would have been necessary.   A geo-consultant was hired and then a bid awarded, and in October of 2012 the entire slope was redone with terracing and hydro-seeding. The sediment was removed and the remaining sod was replaced with Carex, a very water tolerant plant. The contractor told me he was getting $100,000 for the work.  All in all, there were two consultants used and two contractors. It’s possible that with all that was done the total costs were over $250,000. Something I truly believe was unnecessary.

snoey 2d

In September of 2013 a plume of sediment was flowing from the hillslope into the pond.   It meant that something was still wrong and that the Riemann Road facility was no longer releasing clean water. This facility had over $200,000 in repairs and still wasn’t right. I sent this photo as an e-mail attachment to the city but nothing was done. Later, I noticed a new hole had appeared on the hillslope.   Earlier this year, I sent an e-mail to new public works director Tim Shell about the problem and in February some erosion control was done. My comment to Tim Shell was that these things should be noticed and taken care of without someone like me being involved. In fact, many problems should be taken care of without the city manager or public works director even knowing. Letting little things become big failures and then having consultants and contractors solve the problem is happening too often.

snoey 2e

Riemann Road Facility in March 2015: Cattails are displacing Carex and sediment build up below the sediment trap is due to catch basins not being cleaned and sediment not being removed from the trap. Because of this, this facility and the other three at Bellwood heights will fail again unless there are changes in how the Ridgefield Stormwater Utility is operated.


  1. Ilia Wilken says

    Wow! Thanks Kathy for being such a concerned and tenacious citizen!

  2. Kathy,
    We appreciate this type of reporting. Thank you, Paul.

  3. A huge thanks to both Paul and Kathy for your involvement and tenacity in our (consultant heavy), but lovely community. I Know Paul, that you have a passion and knowledge in this area, that may help resolve this challenge. Hopefully, your opinions, and letters as well as Kathy’s article will recieve the attention necessary to really fix this expensive problem. This community has a huge number of dynamic and knowledgable individuals that are (often) not given the appropriate attention, simply because they don’t have a marketing team (or slick paperwork) behind their suggestions.
    I have great appreciation and support for our Mayor and City a Council, so let’s keep in mind what is possible by looking internally, and for less money. Thank you again!

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