UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. – In a nearly hour-long presentation, Bob Criss, a geological scientist, presented a 28-page River Des Peres flooding report to the University City Council.
“Floods are certainly getting worse,” Criss said. “Many people want to primarily attribute this to climate change…but the main factor is river constriction.”
Criss suggested a number of solutions, including creating a website for the U-City stormwater commission; having city staff keep updated records of condemned properties, strengthening codes for impervious surfaces, and requiring disclosure of flood history for rentals and home purchases.
“U-City has got to do what U-City can do first,” Criss said.
When asked what the top priority on his list was, Criss simply said to make sure the city’s flooding alert system is connected to the emergency notification system before summer.
Criss cited a number of issues that contribute to flooding on the River Des Peres, including artificial redirection, which has ruined the streams’ natural storage capability, destruction of riparian borders, construction of homes and businesses too close to the river, and a number of undersized bridges.
He said a lot of these issues need to be seen in person, which he said the Army Corps of Engineers has not done.
“Right now, there’s a huge tree trunk stuck on your undersized bridge,” Criss said “How would you know? You think the army is going to tell you? I’m down there, not them.”
In his presentation, Criss said he’s spent hundreds of hours studying the river.