Oshkosh continuing fight against flooding issues

OSHKOSH – Oshkosh has a long-standing problem with standing water.

After historic flooding in 2008 and 2012 city officials put a priority on fixing the problem.

The work has been underway for several years now.

Many homeowners in this neighborhood near the Fox River in Oshkosh still remember the historic floods of just a few years ago.

“The neighbors had anywhere from two feet to five feet of water,” said Gene Rice.

Rice was spared flooding at his home, but says it’s only a matter of time before his neighborhood is hit again.

In the meantime, Oshkosh is working to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“We want to keep the clear water, or the rain water from getting into the sanitary sewer system which is not designed to handle that large of a flow of water,” said Assistant Director of Public Works Steve Gohde.

So the city is pouring money into the sewer system. This week contractors will be repairing and replacing manhole covers and fixing leaks in the pipes below.

It’s a nearly $750,000 project.

Gohde says the wastewater treatment facility normally handles about 10-12 million gallons of water a day, but during heavy rains he says it can see up to 100 million gallons of water. And that is why the city is investing $1 million a year to alleviate the problem.

“If the treatment plant gets overwhelmed, we either get to the point where we are releasing partially treated wastewater to the Fox River or downstream to Lake Winnebago and or there is wastewater that is partially diluted that is backing up into people’s basements and homes.”

Gohde says the efforts over the last several years are starting to have an impact.

“The treatment plant operators have said they have seen a slight delay or reduction in the peak during the spring rains that we have had.”

And homeowners like Rice say anything is better than nothing.

“It’s fine that they are trying to do something but I don’t think it is an easy fix.”

But one the city plans to keep working on.

The city plans to do work on up to 200 manhole covers this year.

It’s the fourth year of that work as part of a larger storm water diversion plan.

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