Flooding produces a variety of hazards and impacts to public safety, homes and businesses, infrastructure (roads, utilities, etc.) and the natural environment. It can have direct impacts on water quality, including contamination from dislodged fuel and chemical storage tanks, mobilization of household waste and toxic substances, excessive erosion around rivers and massive hill slope failures. As such, the work of reducing the impacts from flooding supports the social, economic and environmental interests of communities in the NYC watershed and the water supply protection mission of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP).
Following Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011, a framework was developed for funding flood hazard mitigation in the NYC West of Hudson watersheds. Under this new initiative, Stream Management Programs in the NYC water supply watersheds and the Catskill Watershed Corporation are supporting the analysis of flood conditions and the identification of hazard mitigation projects.
The process consists of two steps: 1) an engineering analysis of flood conditions and identification of potential flood mitigation projects articulated in a plan and 2) project design and implementation. The first step, called Local Flood Analysis (LFA), is undertaken to determine the causes of flooding, investigate and analyze the overall potential of specific projects, and groups of projects in combination, in an attempt to mitigate flood damages and hazards. A planning effort associated with this analysis will complement past planning efforts such as All Hazards Mitigation Plans by further defining future projects and prioritizing between projects. Upon completion of the engineering analysis and plan, funding for design of priority projects and their implementation can be sought.
In Delaware County, LFAs have been completed for the Delaware River in Walton, Fleischmanns, and for the Town of Tompkins. Studies are underway in Walton (for the tributaries), Delhi, Hamden, Andes, and Arkville.
NYC Watershed Stream Management Programs have provided funds to cover the cost of hiring consultants to conduct the LFAs. The Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District Stream Management Programs have provided technical, administrative, coordination and outreach support and guidance to communities undertaking this effort. Additional support is provided by the Delaware County Departments of Watershed Affairs, Planning, Emergency Services, Code Enforcement, and Public Works.
Once projects are shown to be effective by the LFA and are recommended in the plan, they may be eligible for grant funding through Federal or State funding sources, Stream Management Program’s Implementation Grants Program (SMIP) and/or the CWC’s Flood Hazard Mitigation Program. The plan will identify the best funding opportunities for each project.
This program is entirely voluntary, and only the Town/Village boards, or their designees, can decide which projects they will seek to implement.
In recognition that there may be additional opportunities for the City to purchase from willing sellers floodplain properties that were not otherwise eligible for or did not participate in the FEMA flood buy-out program, or are not eligible for purchase under the terms of the Water Supply Permit unless they are participating in a flood buy-out program, the mid-term revisions require the City to commit to funding a City-funded flood buy-out program. The intent of this program is to acquire high-priority parcels that are important from a flood mitigation and water quality perspective, but which did not participate or otherwise qualify for a federal buy-out program. Properties purchased through this program will have existing structures and other potential sources of water contamination removed and will be maintained in accordance with local flood hazard mitigation goals. Based on the estimated value of properties that initially applied for the FEMA flood buy-out program after Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, but did not in the end participate, the City will commit $15 million to ensure adequate funding for this program. These funds will only be available for flood buy-out purchases made in accordance with the conditions of the City’s 2010 WSP as amended. In addition, if it is determined that more than $15 million is required to purchase flood buy-out properties, the City will draw additional funds from the $50 million allocated for general land acquisition.
To complement efforts under the City-funded flood buy-out program and ensure long term economic viability and sustainability of the upstate watershed communities, the Revised 2007 FAD requires the City to provide the Catskill Watershed Corporation $17 million to support a Local Flood Hazard Mitigation Program, which, in part, is expected to include the relocation of homes, businesses and critical community facilities.