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Allentown will expedite West End flooding study

By Randy Kraft, WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 16 2013 04:48:11 PM CDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Allentown officials announced they are going to expedite the start of an engineering study to get to the bottom of flooding problems in parts of the city's West End.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski has decided to forego the standard lengthy procurement process of issuing a Request for Proposals, which the city initially intended to do in response to residents' complaints. That study would have taken up to one year to complete and no improvements would have been made until it was finished.

The mayor has directed city Public Works Director Rich Young to expedite the review and analysis to implement corrective actions sooner.

“We’re going to meet this issue head-on and try to affect some positive results as quickly as possible,” promised Pawlowski in a news release. “The study should identify all the contributors to the problem and develop some solutions. We want to solve the problem once and for all.”

"Based on the justification of the immediacy of the situation and the unknown forces of Mother Nature, the Department of Public Works and the Engineering Bureau will review the expertise of qualified firms, including their experience in analyzing municipal storm water systems, and retain one to tackle the project on an emergency basis," explained city communications coordinator Mike Moore in the release.

Eight members of the city's administration met with angry residents for two hours last month, after an intense storm on Aug. 29 produced widespread flooding, damaging homes and garages and destroying cars and other property.

Some West End residents have been threatening to sue the city, accusing it of negligence.  They maintain a 1985 city study of West End flooding offered solutions to end it, but the city failed to implement those recommendations to solve the problem.

Since the Aug. 29 flood, said Moore,  the city has taken "significant actions to address this complicated hydrologic/hydraulic drainage issue."

Those actions have included increased cleaning of inlets in the West End, more aggressive leaf collection and comprehensive videoing and monitoring of the storm water system.

The city will commission a hydrologic/hydraulic engineering study to develop recommendations to upgrade and improve what is known as the Livingston Watershed Stormwater Collection system.

That watershed comprises an area of  4.6 square miles with 23.8 miles of drainage conduits.

The work is expected to include:

* Analyze watersheds, starting with areas having significant exposure to residential flooding;

* Model two, 10, 25, and 100-year storms to determine runoff rates and volumes, water surface profiles, channel velocities and inundated/affected areas;

* Develop viable options for addressing identified flooding problems and issues associated with those options (regulatory, physical, property ownership, etc.);

 * Provide analysis of the risk and the reduction of risk due to the mitigation project.