Brown County narrows focus on major flooding trouble spots

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Flood waters have damaged countless homes and businesses in Brown County over the past year. Three separate severe weather events--September 2018, March 2019, and September 2019--threatened roads and bridges. County leaders say there are plans in the works to make changes--but they come at a cost.

Flooding on County Highway EA in Bellevue. March 2019. (Brown County Public Works)

Enough is enough for people living in the flood-prone areas.

"Depending on where you live, some people have been flooded out three times," says Paul Fontecchio, Brown County Public Works Director.

After March floods, Brown County Public Works Director Paul Fontecchio purchased a $31,000 sandbag machine. It can fill 1,000 bags per hour. Fontecchio says it came in handy during last week's flooding.

"That was an investment that was well worth it, but that was the easy one," says Fontecchio.

He's looking for permanent, preventative measures.

Fontecchio has narrowed down three major trouble spots in the county: Highway GV near the Brown County Sheriff's Office; Nicolet Drive near Beach Lane; and County Highway EA near the YMCA in Bellevue.

GV is in a flood plain. That means there isn't much the county can do to prevent flooding. There are options for the other two locations.

"Brown County has taken the lead on getting a design consultant on board to look at both of those places, and we're hoping to partner with the City of Green Bay on Nicolet Drive and the Village of Bellevue on County Highway EA, to come up with some engineering solutions," says Fontecchio.

One solution is redirecting water flowing down the ledge toward the Bay of Green Bay. Right now, water goes through a five-by-ten foot box culvert that narrows to a 42-inch pipe. The pressure overwhelms it and floods homes at Nicolet and Beach.

It will be an expensive fix.

"Upwards of a million [dollars], depending. Yeah, it's not an easy fix. We're looking at rerouting a stream that carries 400 acres that it drains, and perhaps building a new box culvert. It's just not cheap," says Fontecchio.

To prevent flooding by the east side YMCA, Fontecchio suggests a draining ditch or retention pond.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of time before changes are made.

"We should try and address it because it's only a matter of time before we have these kind of events again," says Fontecchio.

Brown County will hold a meeting for residents at Nicolet and Beach on September 25 at 6 p.m. They'll go over preliminary design ideas. The meeting will be held at Duck Creek Center, 2198 Glendale Ave.