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Annual spring flooding inundates Lowell

The Grand River maxed out at 17.4 feet at 2 am on Thursday, May 21, cresting two feet above flood stage. Many streets around town were closed, Recreation Park was turned into a big lake and the city was forced to discharge sewage into the river to keep nasty matter from backing up into businesses and homes.

"We handle all of these [flood response] items collaboratively," said Lowell city manager Michael Burns. "The Department of Public Works is handling all the public work aspects of things, I'm handling all the communications, the police are handling any police matters and if there are any medical emergencies we'll call the fire department."

Sewage was pumped into the river so that it wouldn't end up fouling the basements of Lowellians.

"The biggest issue always in these floods is the wastewater treatment plant taking on water," Burns said. "We're going to be doing some bypass pumping here to alleviate the plant. That's really been the only issue. When we have too much water going through the storm sewers, what happens is it infiltrates into the wastewater treatment plant. To prevent all of that water from going into the plant, we pump it out into the river, then it goes away. It leaves town, basically. It's a normal thing that happens in flooding like this."

Streets around town were closed, including sections of Bowes Rd. and Jackson St., but a few vehicles were observed driving around the barriers.

"Really the biggest thing is making sure people aren't driving through the barricades," Burns said. "I don't think that's a wise idea. Barricades are not a suggestion, you should not be going through there. The water is going to be too high and it's not going to be safe. That's the reason why the roads are closed."

This year's flood was only 1.62 feet lower than the highest recorded height in that spot, which was 19.02 feet on April 21, 2013.

To keep close track of the Grand River at Lowell, visit this page: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=grr&gage=lwlm4

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