By Brynn Fann, Program Officer
In fall 2021, the N.C. General Assembly appropriated $25 million to the Golden LEAF Foundation to award funds to units of local government across all 100 counties for public infrastructure projects to reduce flooding. Projects may be awarded up to $250,000 in the Flood Mitigation Program.
To date, over 40 projects have been awarded $8,933,040 by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors to address flooding in their respective localities.
Funding through the Flood Mitigation Program is still available at https://goldenleaf.org/mitigation/.
In this program, there are three categories of projects eligible for funding:
- Construction of new, or improvement of, existing publicly owned stormwater infrastructure, including natural drainage infrastructure and flood control equipment.
- Examples include installation of drop inlets, additional infrastructure to handle increased flood waters, or creation of natural solutions.
- Repair of existing stormwater infrastructure damaged or destroyed by flooding, which must include improvements to mitigate against future flooding.
- Examples include upsizing of existing culverts, a change in material of existing infrastructure (such as going from metal to concrete), or inclusion of natural solutions.
- Engineering expenses related to planning and development of flood mitigation solutions.
- Examples include GIS mapping, design and engineering of new infrastructure, H&H models and analyses.
While projects may be eligible for the Flood Mitigation Program, this is also a competitive program. Characteristics of competitive proposals include:
- Efforts to mitigate against frequent flooding, including hazards with a frequency beyond a hurricane or other named storm.
- Documentation of a high frequency of flooding will create a stronger proposal. This includes dated photos of flooding or documentation from residents or businesses, 911 calls, etc.
- Clear benefit for residents, businesses, and other entities within a community with priorities on those where flooding poses a risk for life, health, and safety.
- Golden LEAF will require an understanding of not just the immediate areas of flooding, but how the flooding can impact residents and businesses around the area.
- A demonstrated likelihood of success and feasibility demonstrated by engineering reports and analysis by professional engineers.
- A current (within the last six months) estimate of probable cost or another similar document.
- Linked to a comprehensive stormwater assessment of planning effort with community support.
- Sustainable outcomes that can be maintained following use of funds.
- For example, will there be enough city staff to support ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure or is there funding set aside each year for stormwater infrastructure.
- For applications to support planning efforts, a reasonable strategy for implementation.
- The purpose of this priority is to ensure any project funded for planning efforts will have a plan in place to implement the strategies identified from the Golden LEAF project. This typically comes in the form of a resolution from the Council committing to these efforts after the conclusion of the project.
Below are just a few examples of active projects awarded funding through the Flood Mitigation Program that reflect characteristics of strong projects:
Town of Lillington: Town-wide Hydrologic & Hydraulic (H&H) Analysis
The Town of Lillington is subject to frequent flooding which makes roads impassable and reduces access to emergency services. The Town began to recognize how severe the stormwater system’s limitations are after a major rainstorm in 2020. Following the rain event, the Town began to investigate and identify several areas of increased flooding and found a number of inadequate and damaged stormwater infrastructure.
To address some of these inadequate areas, the Town applied to Golden LEAF to use funding for engineering expenses related to ten flooding “hotspots.”
“The H & H Study funded by the Golden LEAF Foundation has assisted the Town of Lillington in developing and prioritizing a Capital Improvements Plan for Stormwater Infrastructure,” said Alicia Gregory, Town of Lillington’s Administrative Services Director. “The study has given the Town the ability to view problem areas before it occurs through storm event modeling. Staff has a better understanding of the necessities and concerns associated with the Town owned stormwater infrastructure. Several future projects have been identified throughout this process assisting with flood mitigation in the future. With the support of the Golden LEAF Foundation the Town can now have a proactive approach to stormwater.”
Activities associated with the project include field surveys, assessment of current data, analysis of existing stormwater systems, inventory mapping, and preliminary plans and alternatives. Based on the Town’s unique location, multiple U.S. and N.C. highways will also benefit from the project since they are frequently closed during heavy rain events.
City of Oxford: Oxford Stormwater Master Plan
The City of Oxford experiences flooding throughout the city during heavy, unnamed, and non-tropical rain events. During these flooding events, public works staff cannot access critical infrastructure at the wastewater treatment plant. As flooding started to intensify, the city began to prioritize stormwater management, including initiating a number of stormwater mitigation efforts.
In order to create a stormwater master plan, the City of Oxford applied to Golden LEAF to map the City’s stormwater infrastructure throughout the entire jurisdiction. Along with stormwater mapping, the City will also perform modeling along high flood areas and begin to develop plans and alternatives to be addressed.
“The City of Oxford is working with WithersRavenel to develop a Stormwater Master Plan,” said Mya Wilson, City of Oxford’s Engineering Technician. “The City has surveyed their existing stormwater infrastructure and the collected data was plugged into a model to show how the system responds during rain events. With the help of the model, the City will be able to identify areas that are currently experiencing flooding or are likely to experience flooding due to inadequate stormwater infrastructure. The data collected from this project will help the City prioritize future stormwater improvement projects.”
City of New Bern: Rose Street Pump Retrofit
The City of New Bern experiences flooding along Rose Street in the Duffyfield community during frequent rain events. During flood events, it can take as long as two weeks for the flood waters to dissipate. During flooding, the waters inundate both streets and homes. A nearby Canal has also overtopped during larger flood events. To address flooding in this area, New Bern completed a multiphase feasibility study in 2020 to create the Duffyfield Resiliency Improvement Initiative. One of the projects identified from this initiative was to retrofit the stormwater pump station on Rose Street.
Golden LEAF Flood Mitigation Program funds are being used to modify the existing stormwater pump to allow for better mitigation against larger storm events and lowering the water levels in the Duffyfield community.
“The East Rose Pump Station Rehabilitation project is currently in the engineering design phase, targeting an early fall bidding,” said George Chiles, Director of Public Works with the City of New Bern. “Topographic survey, field inspection of the existing pump station, and determination of environmentally sensitive features have been completed. Currently, design and planning to lower a portion of the wet well, extend the pump intake, and install a penetration into the East Rose Basin are ongoing. At the time of the original construction, construction techniques prevented the pump station from being constructed at its design elevations, causing it to function improperly. Upon completion, this project will provide the City with a much needed rehabilitation to a stormwater pump station which provides flood mitigation to a large residential area within the City, in an area particularly impacted by Hurricane Florence.”
In the community, there are a large number of households that will benefit from this project. Additionally, there are a number of businesses and other entities that will benefit – including access to a nearby hospital with a 350 bed capacity. The City is also pursuing additional funding to benefit the Duffyfield Resiliency Improvement Initiative.
To learn more about or to apply to the Golden LEAF Flood Mitigation Program, please visit our website at https://goldenleaf.org/mitigation/.