HAWLEY – More than 730 feet of failing stormwater pipes that are an integral part of Hawley Borough’s flood control system will be replaced utilizing state money, including $277,911 awarded by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) last week.
Hawley Borough Councilwoman Michele Rojas, who spearheaded the search for funding, said “this stormwater management project has far-reaching effects for the borough’s residents, businesses and surrounding communities. Without these grant funds I don’t see how Hawley Borough would be able to take on this project.”
The levee system, installed six decades ago to protect the borough from the Lackawaxen River, was flagged two years ago by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers over concerns about 10 of the system’s metal culvert pipes that were failing. Without the repair and replacement of these pipes, the borough’s residents would have faced increased flood insurance costs and they would not have received federal assistance in the case of a declared disaster.
Hawley Mayor and Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Hawk expressed his appreciation for the assistance saying, “News of the grants was a relief in so many ways. Without the aid from the state, the costs would have borne by the borough’s 1,140 taxpayers. We thank the legislators for their involvement.”
“Every major project requires cooperation, and when it occurs, we can end up with a terrific result,” remarked Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20th District). “Repairing the flood control system fills a clear need, and adds to the fundamental strength of this community.”
Work will consist of repairing deteriorating pipes running under the earthen levee. The pipes have flap gates designed to release stormwater out of the borough and into the river to prevent flooding. The last underground video inspection of these pipes revealed significant problems that warranted action.
“Corrosion and other issues could negatively impact the performance of the borough’s storm water system during a high water event,” Rojas said. “If the system doesn’t perform as intended, a significant risk to the public’s safety is posed.”
Parts of the borough that are directly protected by the levee include numerous residential dwellings, commercial structures and businesses, two churches, a railroad system and two large apartment complexes including one that houses 72 senior residents, many with mobility issues.
“The project benefits the borough by fully restoring an important flood control system and puts residents’ minds at ease knowing that future flood events will be mitigated and their flood insurance rates and taxes will not skyrocket,” Rep. Mike Peifer (R-139th District) said.
In total, the borough has been awarded more than $600,000, through three different state programs, to help complete the work.
[Editor's note: This is a corrected version of the story. The original headline said the funds were a state loan to Hawley Borough, when in fact, it was a grant that does mot need to be paid back.]