ALBANY — Dougherty County Commissioners got a primer on Monday about ditches, canals and ponds that to some of them seemed as clear as the mud at the bottom of one of those drainage devices.
With no shortage of creeks and streams in the county, efficient movement and storage of storm and drain water is something to be taken seriously.
There are 158 drainage canals in the county, 104 of which are in the Albany city limits, Dougherty County Public Works Director Larry Cook told commissioners. Those canals stretch some 32 miles, and all are maintained by the county, with the city responsible for the smaller ditches in the city that feed them.
The majority of holding ponds that store drainage water, 105, also are in Albany, and the city is responsible for maintaining them, he said, although the county assists when requested. The arrangement is part of service delivery arrangements among the two governments that date to 1988 and 2006.
In addition to keeping water moving and out of residents’ yards and homes, the drainage system serves another purpose.
Like the fire ISO ratings that affect the cost and availability of fire insurance for homeowners, the upkeep of drainage facilities determines whether a homeowner can get flood insurance and the rate he or she pays, Cook said.
As part of requirements for the National Flood Insurance community rating system, the county is required to perform maintenance on its drainage canals.
“We’re mandated to maintain 10 percent each year,” Cook said. “That’s (about) 15 canals we have to maintain each year. This system helps us to reduce the cost of flood insurance in Dougherty County.”
Sometimes residents are confused about whom to call when it comes to ditches and canals, commissioners said.
The really large water carriers that move huge volumes of water are the canals, Cook explained.
Residents can call the local information number or Public Works department to report a problem with a clogged ditch or canal, Cook said during an interview following the meeting.
“We will get them to the right entity,” he said.
Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said after hearing the presentation he knew exactly what to tell residents who call him about a drainage issue – call 311, the city’s information number.