Guest Blog: Event Analysis and Community Participation

By: Kara Murphy

“Truth is, when you’re going through a flood, you already are getting beaten down.” In reference to the accumulated effects of increased stormwater runoff, homeowner and Ambler Borough local of seventeen years expressed the struggles of living in a community defined by active floodplains. “The thing you need to be able to do is go about preparing your properties. And I’ve found that this is a hard thing to do when you have properties within a floodplain.”

meetingOn November 14th, stowed in the First Presbyterian Church of Ambler, the anticipated findings of the “Flooding and Stormwater Management for Ambler Area Watersheds” study was revealed and presented to the public. Coordinated by Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities, the event identified and prioritized stormwater improvements to mitigate water quality problems, derived primarily from non-point source pollutions, and flooding problems that residents have been facing for many years. Residents of the Ambler Borough and Whitpain and Upper Dublin Townships share a mutual and prominent concern of flood property damages.

Alongside the congregation of roughly 100 community residents that formed the audience, researchers from Temple University, municipalities and government agencies involved in the studies research dissected the findings. The Center for Sustainable Communities director, Dr. Jeffery Featherstone, and civil engineer Richard Fromuth, directed a presentation to the audience on the constructed implementation strategies, recommendations for the three urban watersheds, and stormwater management and flood mitigation plans. The municipalities and governmental agencies present included Ambler Borough, Upper Dublin Township, Whitpain Township, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Department of Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Emergency Management Agency. A portion of the presentation was focused on the contributing actions of these teams involved in the study, specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency whom explained their individual involvement in the study to the audience.

The event then transitioned into an interactive open conversation between the residents and the researcher team of Temple University’s Center of Sustainable Communities, the municipalities and government agencies. Among the many Ambler Borough residents who have been subject to the accumulated effects of increased runoff, the concern of property damages caused by flooding being comprehensive and significant was greatly expressed. Indisposed with anticipation to address such concerns, the microphone wove through the audience as residents shared specific questions, suggestions, and comments.

One topic of focus was the relationship residents have with flood insurance and the ways in which home owners have faced difficulty protecting property. Home owners that have properties in close proximity to bodies of water, such as Rose Creek, for example, expressed a common perhaps universal concern of property damages and an obligation to invest in expensive flood insurance. In addition to property damages, the audience questioned why certain areas were not included within the proposed flood management plans. Addressing this concern, researchers expressed that the areas that were most likely to be funded were of focus within the presentation. Although not covering all the locations subject to flooding within the presentation, the locations most vulnerable as a whole were focused upon. The underlying and most significant question of all was when and how the implementation strategies would be put into place. Addressed by The Federal Emergency Management Agency, it is believed the suggestions made within the study are most likely to be adopted in 2016 when the implementation process has proper funding. Until that point, the process to recovery has been initiated and was clearly demonstrated by the active public discussion concerning the Flooding and Storm Water Management for Ambler Area Watersheds study findings.

Ambler Area Watershed Study Map

The online map is available now! Explore CSC preliminary floodplains, recommended extended detention sites (new or retrofit), infiltration sites, and riparian buffer sites. Zoom in (using “+” sign) or zoom out (using “- ” sign). Print out. Any questions, comments, let us know.

http://bit.ly/1xzWzjO

Appendix: Recommended Stormwater Improvements (map and tables)

Please see below four documents. These will be added as appendices to the original report.

1) A map showing our recommended stormwater improvements (extended detention basins, infiltration sites, and riparian buffer restoration sites)

2) A table explaining recommended extended detention basins (site or facility IDs are consistent with the map)

3) A table explaining recommended infiltration sites (site or facility IDs are consistent with the map)

4) A table explaining recommended riparian buffer restoration sites (site or facility IDs are consistent with the map)

Public Presentation – Slides are available now!

Picture from the event

About 75-80 people attended our public presentation. Thanks to residents, business owners, municipal officials, representatives from FEMA, EPA, Army Corp, PEC, and Montgomery County. Please see below a link to the presentation slides. This is a PDF file, 13 MB. A summary report, which will include public comments, questions, and concerns, will be available in early December. Please remember to send us your feedback by Monday 24. Email to meenar@temple.edu.

Public Presentation – November 12, 2014

Here is a link to our draft report

Guest Blog on Upcoming Public Presentation

Flooding and Storm Water Management for Ambler Area Watersheds: Details and Upcoming Events
By: Kara Murphy

Southeastern Pennsylvania rests on the Piedmont region, interlocking valleys and hills defined by dense forests and intertwining veins of watersheds. Wildlife and diverse communities that inhabit the region contain the watersheds of Southeastern Pennsylvania and their tributaries that flow through the region. One watershed includes the sixty-four square mile Wissahickon Creek watershed and three important tributaries: Rose Valley Creek, Honey Run/Stuart Farm, and Tannery Run. Draining Ambler Borough and Lower Gwynedd, Whitpain, and Upper Dublin Townships, the watershed and its tributaries pass through various densely populated, vibrant, and diverse urban settings.

Communities that are located at the downstream end of the tributary watersheds have become subject to the accumulated effects of increased runoff from upstream areas. In particular, the densely developed West Ambler neighborhood located in the neighboring Whitpain Township has suffered property flood damages and face environmental justice issues that include air pollution, surface water pollution and groundwater contamination. Major sections of the Ambler business district experience serious flooding from partially buried Tannery Run, which flows literally in the basements of many buildings. The downstream accumulated effects are linked to the increase of impervious land cover, such as roads, driveways, parking lots and other man-made surfaces. Land conversion causes surfaces to be less permeable leading to higher flood peaks, flood volumes and frequency of flooding. Not only has this caused an escalation of runoff and flood levels, but has also caused storm water runoff to contain damaging pollutants it encounters as the run-off makes its way down stream.

In response, the Ambler Environmental Advisory Council prioritized local streams for watershed protection and riparian buffer restoration. New research has been compiled into the recently finalized study entitled, “Flooding and Stormwater Management for Ambler Area Watersheds”. The project team, consisting of researchers at Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities, formed partnerships with local governments, environmental groups and community organization, created implementation strategies that will provide aid to communities through storm water management and flood mitigation plans. The plan has identified and prioritized stormwater improvements to mitigate water quality problems, derived primarily from non-point source pollutions, and flooding problems that residents have been facing for many years.

On November 12th, from 7:00 pm-9:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Ambler, the Center for Sustainable Communities will present the key findings of their Ambler Area Watersheds study. The project team’s study will be discussed, including implementation strategies and recommendations for the three urban watersheds and stormwater management and flood mitigation plans. Along with Temple University’s Center of Sustainable Communities, the municipalities and government agencies involved in the studies research and funding will be present. This includes Ambler Borough, Upper Dublin Township, Whitpain Township, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Department of Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Discussing the study with community members who have suffered flood damages is anticipated.

Final Report for Public Review (please submit comments by Nov 24)

The final report (draft version) of the Ambler Area Watersheds study is available now! Please click on the following link to view/download a pdf report (12 MB). Comments or feedback should be sent to us within the next four weeks, by Monday, November 24, 2014. Please send your feedback to meenar@temple.edu. Thank you for your time.

AmblerWatersheds_FinalReport_Draft_Oct27_2014_TempleUniv

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Public Presentation – Nov 12

The Center for Sustainable Communities will present the key findings of this study, along with preliminary floodplain maps on November 12. This will be a free public event. The draft report will be posted on this web site soon.

WHEN: Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 7-9 PM
WHERE: First Presbyterian Church of Ambler, 4 South Ridge Avenue, Ambler, PA 19002 (Entrance from Cavalier parking lot, Free parking after 6 PM)

Event Flyer

Event Flyer