By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS – The City Council held a public forum to discuss storm water drainage issues for private property owners after having a workshop and a meeting on Tuesday night.

Mark Hyde, public works director brought together six professionals from various fields including real-estate, insurance and landscaping to address the private flood issues that the city cannot legally handle.

"This is really what we are here for," Hyde said as he posted pictures of flooded houses caused by drainage issues on private land in Harker Heights. "Everyone is here to hear the issues addressed by private flooding."

Larry Robinson, a local landscaper with Central Texas Lawn Care and Landscaping, had advice to give about how to protect yards from having future flooding.

"What I see on landscaping, is not just one thing," Robinson said, mentioning that there is an endless array of reasons a home can flood.

No rain gutters, poorly placed rain gutters and rain gutters that are not functioning properly can all lead to flooding, Robinson said.

"Rain gutters are typically a good fix," he said.

Another reason homes can flood is because of poor maintenance or no maintenance of a yard, Robinson said.

"If you take care of your yard, it will take care of you," Robinson said. People should not over mow or under mow, overwater or underwater. They should trim their trees on a yearly basis, rake their yards when it is required and perform several other lawn maintenance activities, Robinson said.

"Tree trimming not only lets the sun dry out standing water, but it lets the wind come through." Robinson said. "The wind will dry the ground out a lot faster than the sun will ... Piles of leaves sitting on the ground will not let the water underneath them dry."

Other problems that can lead to lots flooding are adding sidewalks, pools, fences, desks, sheds and more, he said.

Mark Miller, Don Cast Insurance agent, addressed the forum attendees about the different forms of flood insurance they can acquire for their home.

"One of the unknown statistics is that everyone is in a flood plain," Miller said, explaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency marks every home at levels of A, B or C on the floodplain.

Purchasing flood insurance protects either the structure of a home or contents of the residence and/or both, Miller said. It is not meant to fix the issues of flooding.

Miller gave the audience a few figures of how much it would cost to insure a home with all three types of protection. He also described what insurance companies consider flooding.

"Flood insurance is water coming from the outside in," Miller said. It does not cover broken water mains in the home, septic backup or other sewage problems, he added.

Other speakers consisted of Otto Wiederhold, an engineer from Walker, Wiederhold & Associates ,LLC, who spoke about the city's drainage manual and its contents; Burk Roberts, a lawyer with Roberts & Roberts, who spoke about what legal measures residents can take against their neighbors obstructing water flow; Dennis DeWine, real estate broker with ERA-Colonial Real Estate, who spoke about what property owners are suppose to disclose about a property's history; and Diana Swartz, First National Bank of Texas vice president, who spoke about loans one can acquire to make improvement for drainage issues.

The city has created a $3.2 million plan to fix issues that are on public land, Hyde said. This plan will last four years and with $800,000 a year being allocated a year to the project.

The City Council prior to the drainage forum also discussed or acted upon issues:

It rejected all the bids for the purchase of three police vehicles to start the bidding process again.

It suggested to Bury+Partners Inc. Engineering Solutions to submit an improvement plan for Indian Trail with one sidewalk and a second sidewalk alternate.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or call (254) 501-7554

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