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Stormwater improvements have cut flooding

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Oct. 26, 2017) Darl Kolar of EA Engineering, Science and Technology Inc. presented comprehensive roundup of recent stormwater projects at a Berlin Mayor and Town Council meeting Monday night.

Stormwater projects undertaken during the last two years included culvert replacement and creation of offline wetlands on both Flower and William streets, as well as additional improvements on Showell Street.

The William Street project is nearly finished, and the next phase would be stormwater management upgrades on Cedar Avenue, Maple Drive and Pine Street, Kolar said.

“The first project we completed is what we named the Hudson Branch and Flower Street Offline Wetlands Project. Essentially, the project [replaced] the culvert system under Flower Street,” Kolar said. “We knew that was the hard part … in terms of flooding in that area and to accommodate as much as we can for a 10-year storm, we needed to supplement that.”

He said the wetland also improved overall water quality along Flower Street. The project started last summer and closed at the end of last year.

The culvert replacement on Flower Street followed, replacing what Kolar called “significantly undersized stormwater advance-piping” with two box culverts.

That project largely wrapped in February, although Kolar said there were some “hiccups” to work out with the contractor before the work is finalized.

Additional improvements on Showell Street were performed by town personnel and finished in April.

Work on William Street began in August and is scheduled to finish this month. The enhancements there were designed to create a roughly 50 percent increase in flow capacity and, through the offline wetland, reduce flooding and improve water quality.

The next phase of upgrades, along Cedar, Maple and Pine, were scheduled to go out to bid this week. The project is estimated to double water-flow capacity by replacing and upsizing storm drains and conveyances.

Funding is limited, however, and some of the work could be phased because the town is working through the end of about $2 million in stormwater grants.

Construction could start next month and finish in January, depending on the weather and available funds. Kolar said all of the projects have reduced flooding by increasing capacity and improving water flow.

“A stormwater event that would sit on Grice and Franklin [streets] two years ago could be three or four hours. Now, we’re seeing that [diminish] inside of one or two hours,” he said.

“The time that the flooding actually stays on the road has been drastically diminished,” Water Resources and Public Works Director Jane Kreiter added. “That’s the bottom line, and it’s all because of all the work that’s been done downstream.”

Councilman Elroy Brittingham said some residents near Flower Street were still complaining about flooding. Kreiter said some areas of the drainage ditch there had yet to be stabilized because conditions were not ideal, but town staff would address it.

Councilman Zack Tyndall said residents on Quillen Drive, Anne Court and Davis Court also recently complained about flooding. He asked for additional stormwater work to be included in the budget next year.

“If we can begin planning that, I would greatly appreciate it,” he said. “I would rather not put a Band-Aid on it. If we could have a comprehensive solution, that would be nice, but I realize with that maybe comes a little bit of a higher price tag and we may have to budget that.”

Kreiter said the area was on the list of town priorities.