County leads way to solve flood woes

Municipalities asked to share cost of study, perform 3 tasks

February 12, 2020 Cranberry Local News

Motorists make their way through high water at Route 19 and Beaver Street in Zelienople last May. The Butler County commissioners agreed to hire an engineering firm to evaluate flooding issues in nine municipalities in the county's southern tier and to come up with projects that could help mitigate flooding.

The county commissioners last Wednesday agreed to hire an engineering firm to evaluate flooding issues in nine municipalities in the county's southern tier and to come up with projects that could help mitigate flooding.

Mark Gordon, the county's chief of planning and economic development, told the commissioners that the engineering firm Herbert, Rowland and Grubic (HRG) would review the release rates of water in each of the municipalities and determine how the rates could be adjusted to reduce flooding of the Connoquenessing and Breakneck creeks.

The engineers also would come up with three small flood-mitigation projects that could be completed in each municipality. If three projects in a smaller township or borough would not be feasible, another municipality would take on an extra project, Gordon said.

The cost for HRG to complete the study and engineer the mitigation actions is $76,380.

The municipalities would collectively pay 80 percent of that cost and the county would pay $15,275, or 20 percent.

The hiring of HRG is contingent upon all nine municipalities agreeing to pay their share of the cost.

“The (multi-municipal group) includes all of the municipalities that have been experiencing the flood water issues,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the engineering project would be completed in four weeks, and the accompanying mitigation projects over the following 10 weeks.

The commissioners unanimously approved the measure.

“It's great to see them moving forward and collaborating in this fashion,” said Leslie Osche, commissioners chairwoman.

Commissioner Kim Geyer pointed out that the work has been a decade in the making, as Act 167 of 2010 was supposed to help municipalities deal with flooding by performing such projects.

Gordon said a study was completed as a result of Act 167, but state funds ran out before mitigation actions could be determined.

Osche said state funds were to pay for all studies and mitigation work in Act 167, but now the burden is on the county and municipalities to pay.

Still, Osche said she was in favor of the measure.

“I think it's a good and logical next step,” she said.

Osche said each municipality has been responsible for flooding issues that result from subdivision and land development, but collaboration is better because development in one township or borough can greatly affect its municipal neighbors.

“Bringing groups together and nurturing that along is a great role for us,” she said.

Gordon said the southern tier's collaboration with the county could spur future collaborations in other parts of the county.

“We're hoping it would,” he said.