The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 13, 2014

Corps gives Sunbury flood wall top rating

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — The Sunbury Municipal Authority announced notification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the city’s flood protection system received the district’s first rating of acceptable since 2009.

A routine levee inspection was conducted in June as part of the corps’ Levee Safety Program, Jeff Lewis, flood department manager for the Sunbury Municipal Authority Flood Control, said.

“We are happy about this,” he said. “This is the highest rating you can get.”

The rating system was phased into use by the corps of engineers from 2007 to 2009 and has three levels: acceptable, where most components are working as designed; minimally acceptable, where some components are not working as designed but would not prevent the flood system from performing as intended; and unacceptable, where some components are not working as designed and would prevent the flood system from performing as intended.

“They were aware of the few rocks that fell out of the WPA wall and said it was OK,” Lewis said. “It has to eventually be fixed, but at this point, it is absolutely not urgent.”

Sunbury is in the process of fixing the flood wall, Mayor David Persing said.

“That shows our investment in our community, and City Council recognizes a need to provide that protection,” he said. “It will have an impact on our flood insurance because if it would have failed, flood insurance for city residents would have went up.”

The corps’ Baltimore District ranges from Washington, D.C., to parts of New York state, Lewis said.

The acceptable rating will allow the Sunbury system to remain eligible for rehabilitation assistance under the corps’ Rehabilitation Inspection Program as associated with Public Law 84-99. It also will allow the city to continue its participation in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System, which lowers premiums for property owners in the area protected by flood control project, Lewis said.

Sunbury’s flood protection system is more than 60 years old, and while the city still retains ownership, the daily operations and maintenance of the system were transferred to the authority in 1993. Lewis said the wall secured this high rating through the authority’s ongoing efforts to maintain and upgrade the system.

Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com.