By Rick Hiduk
(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)
A new agreement between Bradford County and the Bradford County Conservation District will put local officials in the drivers seat as far as determining how best to address flood control issues while also meeting the watershed improvement objectives of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
“Bradford County can make its own decisions as to how to meet the goals,” said Commissioner Ed Bustin. Though the Conservation District will still work under DEP guidelines, there will be less direct intervention by the state. Commissioner Doug McLinko called the move a “positive change.”
Under the new agreement, the Conservation District will be authorized to provide professional services and equipment to conduct field and hydrologic studies. The agency will also be able to develop restoration priorities and to design, permit, and construct stream projects for landowners in Bradford County.
The initiative is part of an ongoing program rebooted by the county last year in the wake of extreme localized flooding events. Owing to a more elastic climate, it became apparent that such occurrences could become more frequent, and the standard DEP permitting process was no longer a practical solution. Several town hall-style meetings were held to gather the opinions of residents and officials and to find ways to expedite the process.
According to Commissioner Ed Bustin, applications for residents seeking solutions to flooding issues on their properties are available at the courthouse but must be completed by June 1.
The next public meeting of the Bradford County Commissioners will be held at the North Orwell Community Hall on Route 187 at 10 am on Thursday, May 24. The commissioners are hoping to put a spotlight on the new facility and provide an opportunity for residents nearby who don’t usually attend commissioners meetings to participate.