By Dana Little
How to Reduce Flooding and Need for Flood Insurance on Taylor Pond
Removing obstructions to the free flow of Taylor Brook under Hotel road and Stevens Mill extension could reduce the chance of flooding on the pond. The Taylor Pond Association hired Joseph McLean of Wright-Pierce engineering to advise us on how to prevent the flooding of so many homes from events like the 9 inches of rain we received in June of 2012. After a year of study he presented his preliminary report at our last association meeting in August 2017.
Beaver dams and debris in the outlet have often been blamed for causing flooding. However, Mr. McLean determined that beaver dams, located below Hotel Road, prevent water levels from dropping too low in the summer but do not cause flooding. They block water flow most of the year, but during high water events water easily flows around, over or through the dam. Removal of any beaver dams would result in lower water levels in the pond but no decrease in flooding events.
The Hotel Road culvert through which Taylor Brook flows on leaving Taylor Pond does restrict flow and acts like a large dam during high water events. In 2017 we learned that the state Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to improve this culvert. DOT held a public meeting May 2nd at which I and several other members of the TPA board and pondside residents were present. We learned that work will likely begin in 2019 and will finish by winter. TPA is working with the engineers at DOT to ensure that the project will have a sufficiently large span to reduce the chance of flooding. According to Joseph McLean’s calculations, if the current culvert (about 18 feet wide) is replaced by a 30 foot span, the high water mark in a 100 year flood would be 4.8 inches lower.
Two other sites that restrict water flow are the dam on Taylor Brook located on the Kendall property and the Stevens Mill Road extension which crosses the brook and allows access to the Kendall home. We have spoken to the Kendalls and they plan to leave the dam alone. The Stevens Mill Road extension passes over Taylor Brook, is owned by the city and acts as a dam during high water levels. Replacement of the current bridge with a 35 foot wide bridge, in combination with improvements to the Hotel Road culvert, would lower the 100 year flood level by a total of 14.4 inches.
One final finding of the engineering report could help reduce the estimated 100-year flood elevation by almost two feet (from 245.5 to 243.6). For certain property owners this could eliminate the need to pay for flood insurance. To change this level, set by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), we would need to contract with Wright-Pierce or appeal to the city to work with FEMA to change the current flood maps. With the proposed improvements to Hotel Road, the Stevens Mill extension, and estimates for 100-year flooding, we could see not only the reduced chance of flooding but also elimination of flood insurance payments for many homeowners on the pond. TPA will continue to work for homeowners on the pond to accomplish all three of these goals.