Penn. governor announces $100M to protect state's flood-prone communities

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has signed legislation that will provide a minimum of $100 million in new funding for flood-control projects in communities hardest hit by frequent and devastating flooding across the state. The money will be awarded as grants to municipalities and agencies through Senate Bill 2, which makes $800 million available to fund repairs to critical water, sewer and flood-control infrastructure, as well as repairs to unsafe, high-hazard dams...

Jul 15th, 2008

HARRISBURG, PA, July 9, 2008 -- Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has signed legislation that will provide a minimum of $100 million in new funding for flood-control projects in communities hardest hit by frequent and devastating flooding across the state.

The money will be awarded as grants to municipalities and agencies through Senate Bill 2, which makes $800 million available to fund repairs to critical water, sewer and flood-control infrastructure, as well as repairs to unsafe, high-hazard dams.

"Ensuring our communities and residents are protected against the devastating floods that have been all too common in recent years is important to providing peace of mind to our families and the assurance employers need to invest, grow and create jobs in our towns and cities," said Governor Rendell. "Pennsylvania's 86,000 miles of rivers and streams are a great state asset, but they also present a huge flood-prevention and management challenge."

Pennsylvania is one of the most flood-prone states in the nation, with many major floods since August 2004. During these floods, 16 people died and more than 1,350 homes were destroyed.

The funding announced today builds on the request Governor Rendell made in February as part of his proposed budget for fiscal year 2008-09.

In addition, this year's enacted budget doubles the funding previously available to the Department of Environmental Protection for flood-control projects. The $5.7 million now available to DEP will be used to address a backlog of unmet demand for stream-bank stabilization projects, non-routine maintenance of existing projects, rehabilitation work and emergency closure work.

In addition to the minimum of $100 million specifically allocated for flood-mitigation projects and $35 million for unsafe high-hazard dams under S.B. 2, certain stormwater projects and water and wastewater facilities are eligible for the remaining $665 million in grants. Better local stormwater management will contribute greatly to a reduced risk of flash flooding.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses in communities throughout the commonwealth are located in flood plains and are at risk of being flooded. Ninety-three percent of the state's 2,563 local municipalities are classified as flood-prone.

In the 1990s, the federal flood insurance program paid more than $500 million to Pennsylvania flood victims.

Since 1993, nearly $700 million in federal and state dollars have been spent on flooding disasters in Pennsylvania and more than 1,200 flood-damaged homes have been bought out.

"Investing in safer communities by supporting flood protection is imperative to the economic well-being of our state," said Governor Rendell. "Without a comprehensive flood-protection program, residents and businesses face uncertainty that the next heavy rain will wash out their property and their dreams."

For more information on the fiscal year 2008-09 budget, visit www.pa.gov.

Also see:
-- Pennsylvania Governor Rendell announces $64 Million in water infrastructure investments

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