City seeks funds to ameliorate flooding around May’s Lake

Burlington’s city council has given the city’s municipal staff the all-clear to pursue a federal grant to study ways to avert flooding and erosion in May’s Lake.

The council gave its unanimous blessing to this grant application on Tuesday after Bob Patterson, the city’s water resources director, described some of the challenges posed by this silt-laden body of water, which is located upstream of Burlington’s City Park.

Patterson noted that the condition of May’s Lake has been a priority for his own department since 2016 when a torrential rainstorm dropped 7 to 8 inches of precipitation on Burlington in less than three hours. He recalled that this storm ultimately undermined a dam at the lake, draining much of the water that it contained.

“One of the things that was very evident from that process,” he added, “was the amount of sediment in May’s Lake. There was really only a foot to 15 inches of water, and the rest of the lake was filled with sediment.”

Patterson said that, with some financial assistance from the feds, the city would be able to a hire consultant to conduct some hydraulic studies and propose ways to prevent silt and debris from clogging the lake. He added that this study was one of 11 projects that the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has submitted to FEMA for funding consideration.

Amy Barber, the city’s stormwater supervisor, went on to suggest that this project could serve as a model for other flooding-prone sections of Burlington. She added that, in the case of May’s Lake, the spillage has affected other areas downstream, including the grounds of City Park.

“The outcome of that study would provide us with alternatives from which to choose some feasible solutions for that drainage area,” she told the council on Tuesday.

Barber said that the city hopes to secure $200,000 from FEMA to cover the lion’s share of this project’s expense. The city, for its part, would be responsible for another $62,500 of the cost, which includes $15,000 in in-kind contributions. Barber added that if this request is approved, the city should have the money in hand by January of 2024.