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Grafius Run funding may be included in DEP capital budget

City consultants told City Council Thursday the state Department ofEnvironmental Protection will request $300,000 be added to its capital budget to hire a consultant to complete a study as part of ongoing efforts to mitigate flooding at Grafius Run.

Consultants from Penn Strategies told council that, shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday, Doug Hill, chief of project development with the department’s northcentral regional office, informed them of the financial step forward to resolving the longstanding flooding issues for residents and businesses.

“The city is the first of 13 communities to return damage assessment forms since 2011,” said Sid Furst, of Penn Strategies, the city’s paid economic development consulting firm working on the project.

The Aug. 15 flood event will need to be added to the damage estimate total, which likely will make more possible that the feasibility study will take place and potentially the department may be able to construct its own flood-risk reduction project, Furst said.

Gov. Tom Wolf would have to determine whether the department’s capital projects budget is approved, Furst said.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, chair of the public works committee, noted how very long the residents and employees of the city have waiting for long-term solutions to the flooding, which occurs whenever there are high volumes of water rushing downstream from nearby Loyalsock Township.

Katz said earlier this week that the city must meet with township officials on the continuing problem of residential trash and debris getting into the run and blocking the underwater entranceways at two trash racks.

The result of these blockages is streets and parks department employees having to pick out the trash and debris that is piled up and must be removed at the city expense, she said.

The stormwater management system is one of the top priorities for the city, township and Williamsport Sanitary Authority, the latter of which is wrestling with whether it will take over city stormwater infrastructure, such as Grafius Run, in a transfer that remains on hold.

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