Recent studies indicate an anticipated shift toward an increase in heavy rain events and higher peak flood flow in the years that are upon us. In light of this, resiliency is essential if we want to lessen the burden that these increasingly significant impacts are having on our county.
The Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation district has made it a priority to develop tools that can be used to address these current and future changes with a goal of mitigating the devastating effects that increasing flash flood and heavy rain events are having on our community.
Residents noticed some of these effects in Tioga County over the summer of 2018. According to the National Weather Service’s annual climate report, the Binghamton monitoring station received 56.66 inches of rain during 2018, compared to a normal level of 39.30 inches, nearly a foot and a half above average. Some of this rain came in the form of down pours that brought flash flooding across the county, including heavy rainfall events in August and September where anywhere from two to four inches of rain were dumped on areas at a time.
As the number of greenhouses gasses that are emitted into the atmosphere increases, the world continues to experience a warming trend. This warming allows for more evaporation from bodies of water (oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.), an increase in just 1°F allows the earth’s saturation level to rise 4 percent. This means the amount of water that is able to condense into precipitation amplifies; this precipitation can come in the form of extreme rain events.
While we saw firsthand the flash flooding that was sustained throughout the county this year, we also saw the ravaging effects it had on our community. In 2011, we saw similar damage when Tropical Storm Lee battered our region. Because of damages that were sustained during 2011, the Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District was able to secure funding for watershed assessments to be completed on three watersheds in Tioga County. This funding was made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Block Grant-Disaster Recover (CDBG-DR) for long-term recovery and resiliency projects. Funding has been delivered through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction (NYRCR) Program of New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR).
Through these assessments, the district inventoried and evaluated a number of physical factors including eroding stream banks, damaged segments of streams, bridges, culverts, and debris jams. The information collected will allow us to identify and target funding for cost effective practices that can be implemented to reduce flooding impacts in watersheds including Apalachin Creek, Monkey Run/Huntington Creek, and Wapasenning Creek.
The district will hold three informational meetings next week to share findings with residents living in these watersheds. Residents will be given a brief overview of how streams function and why damaging flooding events occur. They also look to engage with the public and discuss flooding impacts and resiliency, as well as gain input on prioritizing potential future projects.
All meetings will be held at the Ronald E Dougherty County Office Building, located at 56 Main Street in Owego, in the Hubbard Auditorium at 6 p.m.
On March 4 there will be a presentation on Huntington Creek/Monkey Run watershed, March 5 will cover information on the New York portion of Wapasenning Creek watershed, and March 6 will cover information on the New York portion of the Apalachin Creek watershed. If you live in these identified watersheds, you are encouraged to attend these meetings.