Selectmen accept $650K in aid to study flooding problems
Published 4:43 am, Thursday, February 25, 2016
WESTPORT — The Board of Selectman has unanimously approved two initiatives designed to minimize the impact of natural disasters with a focus on flooding.
The board on Wednesday ratified an agreement under which the town will receive a $650,000 grant from the state Department of Housing to administer flood resiliency planning. The project is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program.
Of the $650,000 total grant, $400,000 will be used to draw up a master drainage plan. The plan calls for a study of current drainage conditions, assesses drainage issues and will identify ways to mediate flooding in areas affected repeatedly by the problem.
Town Operations Director Dewey Loselle said the drainage plan, "will build on the Jackson Study." That study, released in 1975 and incorporated into town planning in the 1980s, was a reaction to intense flooding in the town, according to Public Works Director Steve Edwards
The remaining $250,000 will be allocated to a stream analysis planning study of Dead Man’s Brook, a major tributary that collects water from the upper part of town and carries it through downtown into the Saugatuck River.
As Loselle was explaining how Dead Man’s Brook "causes a lot of flooding" and is the next body of water on which the town plans to focus, Selectman Avi Kaner expressed his familiarity with the issue. "It runs through my property," he said.
The 2016-21 Southwestern Region Hazard Mitigation Plan Update, which also includes coastal towns in the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, such as Greenwich, Darien and Stamford, provides strategies to reduce the adverse impact of natural hazards. Approval of the hazard mitigation plan is necessary for Westport to be eligible for a number of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding opportunities, according to WestCOG. The agency noted that adoption of the plan should result in savings on flood-insurance programs.
Selectman Helen Garten noted there are myriad regulatory recommendations designed to address flooding issues, such as acquiring open space in flood-prone areas. "With our Plan of Conservation and Development, we are at least trying to implement it and have a schedule for implementation. What happens generally to these regulatory recommendations?"
Conservation Director Alicia Mozian said efforts to execute the suggestions haven’t always been "embraced" by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Mozian added there are both a distinct benefit and incentive to act on the propositions.
"Those spaces would be considered flood storage and it also helps us with our community rating system which is a point system. So the more activities we do lowers the cost of flood insurance premiums for our property owners," Mozian said.