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Babylon to put out bids to mitigate Carlls River flooding

The white stone terrace and steps at the

The white stone terrace and steps at the southern end of Argyle Lake in Babylon, Jan, 4, 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

The Town of Babylon will put out a design RFP and later a construction bid for infrastructure improvement projects along the Carlls River to mitigate flooding in future storms.

The RFP and bid will follow the recommendations included in an engineering study completed in October that examined ways to make West Babylon and Babylon Village more resilient to extreme weather events. Similar initiatives are underway elsewhere in the town.

Rich Groh, Babylon’s chief environmental analyst, said the town hopes to complete the projects in West Babylon and Babylon Village by year’s end.

The town commissioned the RBA Group, an engineering firm with an office in Melville, to conduct the study. The firm has changed its name to NV5 New York since submitting the report to the town.

After examining data compiled by the town, the U.S. Geological Survey and other organizations, RBA recommended installing new control gates at Belmont Lake, Southards Pond and Argyle Lake; replacing culverts at Elda Lake, Argyle Lake and Locust Avenue; and building a storm water wetland near Sunrise Highway, among other improvements.

The projects would cost more than $7 million, RBA estimated.

The firm declined to comment for this article, citing the stipulations of its contract with the town.

Groh said funding for the projects would come from the $30 million allocated to Babylon Town through community block grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The storm’s six-foot tidal surge inundated the town, causing power outages, electrical fires, more than 300 oil spills, and substantial damage to more than 2,000 homes in West Babylon and Babylon Village alone, according a document released by the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Planning Committee for West Babylon and Babylon Village in March 2014.

“Those low-lying areas along the South Shore were devastated,” said Ray Accettella, the committee’s co-chair. “So we’re just trying to be more resilient and to save us from a critical disaster.”

Encompassing nearly 40 square miles, the Carlls River watershed is the fourth-largest river system on Long Island, according to RBA. Nearly 89 percent of the river’s floodplain is developed, leaving it ill-suited to absorb heavy rains.

The improvements outlined in RBA’s report could go a long way toward safeguarding the town in future storms, Groh said.

“If these projects will reduce flooding even by a few inches, it could be a significant benefit to the residents and the businesses,” he said.

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