City OKs amendment of contract; firm hired to update floodplain map

Columbus has approved a contract amendment with an engineering firm to update a floodplain map for Haw Creek to help regulate future development.

The Columbus Board of Works agreed Tuesday to approve the amendment with Christopher B. Burke Engineering not to exceed $6,500, bringing the city’s original contract with the firm approved last year to $61,400. The money for the amended contract will come from the city’s planning department budget.

Christopher B. Burke Engineering was hired by the city in February 2017 to provide consulting services for a planned update of the floodplain maps for Haw Creek by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Jeff Bergman, city-county planning director. The firm, which has an office in Columbus, had previously developed a map of the Haw Creek floodplain for the city, which has been using the map as a supplement to one developed by DNR and FEMA, Bergman said.

As part of the contract with the engineering firm, it was working with both agencies on the city’s behalf to consolidate the two existing maps into a single map, Bergman said. However, Burke, DNR and the planning department determined that combining the two maps was not feasible, he said.

The approval by the Columbus Board of Works to amend the original contract means Burke will incorporate its work into an update of the city’s map. That work is expected to take two to three months to complete, Bergman said.

Under the scope of work, Burke will involve additional debugging efforts that are required to provide detailed flow paths outside of Haw Creek’s main channel, according to the contract. In addition, the firm will also be updating the current supplemental map and elevations used by the city to regulate the floodplain.

The agreement stipulates that primary and auxiliary flow paths will be revised on the map, while a revised table of elevations will also be provided. The updated model will replace the previous model used to evaluate larger proposed development plans that require modeling under an ordinance, said Jon D. Stoltz, managing vice president with Burke.

Bergman said the map developed by Burke, which will continue to be supplemented by the second map created by the DNR and FEMA, will also help regulate new development in Columbus while ensuring that development is protected from flooding. In addition, it will help make sure that any potential development in the area doesn’t move water onto a neighbor’s property, he said.

On the Web

The floodplain maps for Haw Creek can be found on the county’s GIS system. Information can also be found at floodmaps.in.gov or on the FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center website, msc.fema.gov.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com