With help from the offices of Senator John Gordner and Representative Lynda Schlegel-Culver, Upper Augusta Township received a $468,890 Flood Mitigation grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority to address flash flooding. The Degenstein Foundation ($25,000), Upper Augusta Township ($20,000), SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority ($22,750), and the North Shore Railroad ($22,750), together contributed $90,500 in matching funding.
The Upper Augusta Flood Mitigation Project addresses flash flooding that significantly impacts the 24 residents and three businesses near the intersection of Routes 890 and 61 just south of Sunbury, as well as travelers on both routes which occurred regularly during times of rainfall inundation of 3.5” or more in 12 hours or less. During times of inundation, debris jams under the Route 61 and North Shore Rail line bridges, exacerbated flooding and threatened structural damage to the bridge. Ice jams occur less frequently but are more hazardous since conditions can change in seconds.
The work includes stream corridor restoration, access for debris removal, vegetation management, and sediment and erosion control in the project area from the intersection of Routes 890 and 61 to the ponds approximately 1.25 miles upstream. The desired result of these activities will be flood control, elimination of debris and log jams at the bridge sites, and improved water quality.
Upper Augusta Township and the approximately 9,000 residents whose water needs are served by the Sunbury Municipal authority will be the primary municipal beneficiaries of the project. A core group of stakeholders including SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, North Shore Railroad, Upper Augusta Township, Northumberland County Conservation District, PennDOT, DEP, and the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA)], met three times to discuss problems and solutions.
“Helping to make this grant possible was done out of necessity and in support of township residents whose thoughts no doubt turn to possible flooding and the inconveniences it causes as soon as the first drops of precipitation fall,” Rep. Culver said. “The fact that more than 9,000 people will see their quality of life improve when this project is complete speaks to the magnitude of this issue and the desperate need to fix the problem.”
Flooding and ice jams threaten the water treatment plant owned and managed by the Sunbury Municipal Authority.
Grant scope includes surveying the complete project area using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), preliminary engineering design of all phases, and final design and construction and debris removal. Construction and debris removal activities include the hand removal of small woody debris, using heavy equipment positioned on the creek bank to remove large debris, removing all debris from the floodplain, building multi-log vane deflectors, stabilizing the stream bank with rip rap, and tree removal. Also included are creating access paths to the creek across private property and then restoring the paths to their original condition. Building log vane deflectors and placing rip rap are proven to be non-invasive, and cost-effective.
“I am pleased that another flood mitigation project will be undertaken in our region. While we can’t control the weather, it is important to take measures to reduce the impact of high waters on our residents and communities,” said Sen. Gordner.
In a few years, Upper Augusta Township will call stakeholders together to assess the work that has been completed, determine if Phase 2 work is needed, and identify sources if additional funding is needed. Phase 2 work includes activities in the vicinity of the North Shore Railroad. The Township has been in contact with Penn Dot who has agreed to perform any work it determines necessary along its bridge.
Linda Sterling, a SEDA-COG Program Analyst within the Community Development program who assisted in making this project a reality, said, “This has been a tremendously rewarding project. So many people worked together to make this project happen. Grant funding for the project would not have been possible without Sen. Gordner, Rep. Culver, state agencies DEP, and PennDot. All stakeholders came to the table engaged, helpful, and cooperative. The finished project not only meets all requirements but is also aesthetically pleasing and a real asset to both the safety and the beauty of Shamokin Creek in the project area.”
SEDA-COG is a community and economic development agency in Lewisburg and is one of seven Local Development Districts in Pennsylvania. SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in the 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives.