Area towns look at flood plain management

B y Jaime Thomas

Years ago, the idea of worrying about flooding in Granville and its surrounds was a non-issue.

Since Tropical Storm Irene came in and wreaked havoc, things have changed.

Various towns throughout Washington County, including Hartford and the town and village of Granville, are now looking into hiring a flood plain manager.

“They (county officials) want municipalities to have someone look and see if a property is in a flood plain before building,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, adding that each town is already supposed to have a flood plain manager but many do not.

Rather than forcing new builders to pay for pricey flood insurance if they’re in what is deemed to be flood plain, a flood plain manager, or hydrologist, would come up with alternative options. Granville has been considering the services of A.E. Knapp and Associates.

“We have assisted thousands of homeowners, municipalities, developers, real estate agencies, and mortgage lenders in all aspects of floodplain management, resulting in well over $1 million in reduced or refunded premiums. If you are currently paying for flood insurance, or are proposing a development project in the floodplain, we look forward to putting our experience to work for you,” the company said on its website.

Village Clerk Rick Roberts gave an example of how such a service could be put to use. Several years ago, a flood plain expert told a new builder on River Valley Drive he had to raise his house by 18 inches. When Tropical Storm Irene came through, it was the only house in its area that didn’t suffer flood damage.

Because floods haven’t historically been a problem in the county, most towns don’t have an educated hydrologist among their employees.

“Instead of having to pay and train a new person, it would be more cost effective to contract with someone who is an expert come in and say, ‘Yes we’re in a floodplain’ or ‘No we’re not in the floodplain,’” said Matt Hicks, Granville town supervisor. He said the issue came to the forefront when residents began wondering if they were indeed in a flood plain after the hurricane.

Roberts said because there isn’t a lot of new development in the village of Granville, the issue of flood insurance hasn’t been a predominant one. Hicks thinks it will be useful to find out from the get-go how a property right on the flood line would be classified.

“That way we can make that designation right from the beginning,” he said.

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