Fort Wayne opens cuts ribbon on wetlands to curb southeast side flooding
As city’s pave over wetlands, they reduce drainage leading to more flooding after heavy rainfall. After a Friday morning ribbon cutting, Fort Wayne now has a rare urban wetlands. City officials and neighborhood leaders cut the ribbon on the Colonial Heritage Wetlands, concluding a four-year, three-phase, 40-million-dollar project meant to limit flooding along Hessen Cassel Road on the southeast side of Fort Wayne.
The project runs 60 blocks along Hessen Cassel Road and protects 2,300 homes in 12 neighborhoods and 70 businesses. Frank Suarez, the chief of Fort Wayne City Utilities Strategic Communications said it’s already having an effect.
“We had a heavy rain yesterday,” Suarez said. “As we came down the corridor, in the past, we would have seen standing water in yards. We would have seen standing water at intersections, and we didn’t see that today.”
The Colonial Heritage Wetlands are an expansion of old wetlands with native plants, a two-stage ditch to manage and temporarily store more water after a storm, a bioswale in the middle of the project to collect more flow from a heavy rain event and a walkway to allow residents to explore nature. Suarez said the sounds of birds and bugs at Friday’s ribbon cutting was a sign that the plants were doing their jobs.
Michael Saadeh is a program manager with the City of Fort Wayne. He said the wetlands will do more than protect the area from flooding.
“The bioswale with the different plantings helps with the quality of the water as well. In addition, we’re standing on trails, as you can see," Saadeh said. “We saw this as an opportunity to be able to provide an education to the public as well, looking at the different types of plantings and the different storm water management practices that go into effect.”
Suarez said the city will add signage along the trail at the Colonial Heritage Wetlands for those educational purposes. The project was funded by the City Utilities Department, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Commission.