Flooding information gathered at meeting
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.