HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced nearly $500,000 in grants today to help local municipalities improve operations at 17 flood protection projects in 15 counties, but explained that the statewide need for such funding far exceeds what is available.
“Pennsylvania uses what resources it has for flood protection programs in order to provide residents and businesses with the confidence they need to invest in the future of their communities,” said Rendell. “These projects further our long-term commitment to helping communities finance improvements that will enhance environmental health, improve the quality of life for residents and foster ongoing redevelopment that spurs investment and creates jobs.
“Pennsylvania is able to invest approximately $2.8 million each year in flood protection projects, while directing another $10 million, on average, in bond money for public improvement projects dealing with flood protection,” said the governor. “However, it’s not enough to ensure that we are meeting the public health and safety needs of our citizens.”
He estimated that $475 million is needed in state and federal funding for potential flood protection projects across the commonwealth, with another $800 million needed to repair high hazard dams.
“Our ability to act on these projects hinges on the Army Corps of Engineers’ budget, where many of these projects come to fruition,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty. “It is unlikely that the necessary funding will be available at the federal level, and these are important projects that, unfortunately, are not being addressed.”
The Department of Environmental Protection oversees approximately 100 flood protection projects, ranging from simple culverts to engineered channels, detention and debris basins, and major levee systems. The department conducts yearly inspections, provides technical assistance, and manages the state’s flood protection grant program.
Flood protection grants are awarded annually to municipal sponsors of existing flood protection projects. The grants provide up to 65 percent of the costs for project improvements and non-routine maintenance, and up to 50 percent of the cost for specialized equipment to maintain these projects in a state of readiness.
Sponsors become responsible for the long-term operation and routine maintenance of flood protection projects once construction of a federal or state-funded project is completed. Grants are awarded based on anticipated benefits to the project, such as extending project life, improving functionality or emergency response capabilities.