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Levee problem requires attention of many leaders

Williamsport’s levees are in need of repairs — and we are glad U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Kreamer, and Lycoming County’s commissioners could join Mayor Derek Slaughter to discuss the necessity of the repairs.

The levee system around Williamsport protects about 45% of Lycoming County’s workforce. It protects about 1,500 commercial, industrial and institutional properties — our communities’ employers. Its management of water drainage benefits not only Williamsport but communities up and down the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

“It is not only important to the city of Williamsport, but to Lycoming County and the entire northcentral region,” Keller told the Sun-Gazette in its weekend edition. “Every resident of the Greater Williamsport Area has a stake in this project, and I appreciate the good work that has been done by local stakeholders working together over the years for the benefit of our constituents.”

While it truly is a regional problem, it also is a multi-faceted problem for which solutions have been slowly unfolding. The process to recertify the levee began in 2012, nearly a decade ago. Some of the challenges identified include pump stations that need upgrades before they fail during floods, cross pipes to move excess water and concrete walls that should be thicker and taller than they are today.

They received a boost this summer, as the city began examining how its allotment of Rescue Plan money could be used to address the deficiencies. City and county officials are also working with an economic development firm to secure $5.6 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Funding to address the levee repairs should come from many sources to spread out the burden, and the issue deserves the attention of many of our public servants to also share the burden of solving the levee’s problems before they become crises.

We are glad that last Friday, many of our public servants, including Mayor Slaughter, Commissioners Scott Metzger, Rick Mirabito and Tony Mussare and U.S. Rep. Keller, came together to move this cumbersome project a little further along.

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