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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Enviornmental Council Focuses On Monocacy Floods

Environmental Council Focuses on Monocacy Floods

Trees and shrubs along the creek can help lower the risk of banks overflowing.
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Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council sees the recent flooding along the Monocacy Creek as an opportunity.
“It’s time for intercommunity cooperation,” said Jack Abel, EAC member and former chair of the Bethlehem Planning Commission.
In the past month, the Monocacy has flooded the Colonial Industrial Quarter of the Historic Bethlehem Partnership five times, the EAC noted. And on Sept. 28, way upstream, the Monocacy overflowed and filled downtown Bath with water 2 feet deep for the first time anyone could remember.

It was the perfect storm, a combination of the wettest September on record, following the wettest August on record, with a total of more than 26 inches of rain falling on the Lehigh Valley.
The EAC’s recommendations for lowering the risk of flooding include planting of “riparian buffer” trees, shrubs and other plants that help absorb water, instead of sending it downstream. Lawns and parking lots next to the creek don’t help prevent flooding, they noted.
Mike Topping, EAC secretary and member of the Northampton County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said the Pennsylvania Game Commission is offering free trees and shrubs to all clubs for planting next spring. Many of these clubs are along the Monocacy, and many of these plants are suitable for streamside planting, the EAC noted.
The EAC is also urging Northampton County residents to write letters to county commissioners in support of the Open Space Initiative, which is up for funding consideration at a budget meeting on Oct. 11. Curtailing development and maintaining open space in flood plains is part of the solution, said Topping.
Bethlehem City Council member Karen Dolan, who also is executive director of the Illick’s Mill Partnership for Environmental Education, will address ways to prevent flooding along the Monocacy during next month’s EAC meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at Illick’s Mill, Illick’s Mill Road. The public is welcome.
Established by Pennsylvania law, environmental advisory councils work with elected officials on sound environmental policies, environmental education and the protection and conservation of natural resources.
Related Topics: Flooding, Monocacy Creek, and environmental advisory council