Flood­ing in­for­ma­tion gath­ered at meet­ing

The Ambler Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Eric Devlin

The Cen­ter for Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties at Tem­ple Univer­sity Ambler held a meet­ing Oct. 17 to an­nounce it is de­vel­op­ing a stormwa­ter man­age­ment plan for three ur­ban wa­ter­sheds in the Ambler Bor­ough, Up­per Dublin and Whit­pain town­ships.

The plan will iden­tify and pri­or­i­tize storm-wa­ter im­prove­ments to mit­i­gate wDWeU TuDOiWy DnG flRRGinJ is­sues that the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have faced for many years. Res­i­dents had the op­por­tu­nity to share their per­sonal exSeUienFes wiWh flRRGinJ sR as to help de­velop a strate­gic SODn WR DGGUess Whe sSeFi­fiF is­sues they’ve been fac­ing.

Flood­ing in­for­ma­tion col­lected dur­ing the meet­ing will be used in the storm-waWeU PDnDJePenW SURMeFW WhDW the cen­ter has un­der­taken, which has been funded by the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Philadel­phia Wa­ter Depart­ment, lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, a Community De­vel­op­ment Block Grant and the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers.

Jef­frey Feather­stone, di-

rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties at Tem­ple Univer­sity Ambler, said the meet­ing was to al­low res­i­dents to pro­vide feed­back that could be used to help com­puter mod­els have ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing which ar­eas are im­pacted most heav­ily by flood­ing. He said the in­for­ma­tion would be also help to re­de­fine flood­plain maps and a de­velop new storm or­di­nance.

Feather­stone said mul­ti­ple gov­ern­ment agen­cies are in­volved in the study, in­clud­ing the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He said the re­search is part of a re­gional wa­ter­shed study and that the Ambler area is part of the Wis­sahickon wa­ter­shed, a pri­mary wa­ter­shed. There are three main trib­u­taries to the Wis­sahickon Creek: Rose Val­ley Creek (near Tem­ple Ambler’s cam­pus run­ning to Tennis Av­enue), Tan­nery Run (run­ning near But­ler Pike meet­ing the Wis­sahickon at the BoRit As­bestos site) and Stu­art Farm Creek (where the Loch Alsh Reser­voir is lo­cated).

Dur­ing Feather­stone’s pre­sen­ta­tion, he said Ambler is fac­ing a num­ber of flood is­sues in­clud­ing in­crease of flood fre­quency and dam­age, ex­ten­sive flood­plain de­vel­op­ment in down­stream reaches, lim­ited ca­pac­ity of down­stream cul­verts (in­fra­struc­ture), lim­ited stor­age op­er­a­tions and un­mapped reaches and prob­lem ar­eas.

He said the area’s cul­verts are un­der­sized and don’t have the ca­pac­ity to with­stand the on­slaught of wa­ter dur­ing larger flood­ing events. There are cur­rently 20 sites that slow and in­fil­trate wa­ter with about 60 projects planned to help al­le­vi­ate the is­sue by de­tain­ing wa­ter and buf­fer­ing it sev­eral times as it trav­els down the re­gion.

Among the ar­eas ex­cluded from cur­rent flood­plain maps is the West Ambler area of Whit­pain Town­ship. Feather­stone said flooded ar­eas not in­cluded on of­fi­cial flood plain maps aren’t el­i­gi­ble for buy-out pro­grams.

An­other rea­son the study is be­ing done is to see what’s hap­pen­ing un­der­ground. Feather­stone gave the ex­am­ple of the area along Orange Av­enue in Ambler Bor­ough where a hid­den un­der­ground stream con­sis­tently flooded the area but wasn’t dis­cov­ered un­til re­searchers were told to take a look. Feather­stone said the un­der­ground pipes in sew­ers are not big enough to han­dle the large amount of wa­ter and of­ten­times there are streams and other wa­ter­ways that are un­known un­til fur­ther study has been done.

He said that while there are a num­ber of ways en­gi­neers can help “mit­i­gate the prob­lem,” they won’t be able to com­pletely stop flood­ing, es­pe­cially dur­ing ma­jor storms.

This was the first of two meet­ings that will take place re­gard­ing the is­sue. The sec­ond meet­ing will be held next fall, where the project team will present an in­ven­tory of storm-wa­ter man­age­ment fa­cil­i­ties, an as­sess­ment of storm-wa­ter im­prove­ment rec­om­men­da­tions and a 10-year im­ple­men­ta­tion strat­egy.

Ambler res­i­dent Brian Quinn said he thought the meet­ing was good be­cause it fi­nally al­lowed res­i­dents to come out and dis­cuss the is­sue. He said he wants the en­gi­neers to visit his house be­cause he’s been liv­ing with flood­ing prob­lems for the past 10 years and it has been chal­leng­ing.

“Some­times it goes well; some­times it doesn’t,” he said.

He said he still has some unan­swered ques­tions but the meet­ing gave peo­ple a chance to be heard.

In or­der for the pub­lic to pro­vide in­put that was not col­lected at the meet­ing, Feather­stone said to visit www.am­bler­wa­ter­shed. word­press.com.

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