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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Pittsfield Granted Over $200K

12:00AM / Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pittsfield – Department of Public Works and Utilities Commissioner Bruce Collingwood today announced that Pittsfield has been awarded a $207,000 grant for the Oak Hill Tributary Improvement Project to address chronic flooding and erosion in the Unkamet Brook watershed.

The Source Water Protection Grant was awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to implement best management practices throughout the Unkamet Brook watershed. The purpose of the grant is to mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff that are causing flooding and erosion problems with accompanying downstream buildup of sediment throughout adjacent residential neighborhoods.

In the current budget, Mayor James Ruberto made capital improvements to address flooding throughout the city a top priority with $2 million for three problem areas, including the Unkamet Brook watershed/Oak Hill area. This grant will contribute significantly to the planned $474,600 project.

“We all learned during the historic rainfalls in 2005 how devastating water runoff and flooding can be to our community,” said MRuberto. “Maintaining the city’s infrastructure is a necessity.”

Collingwood said that he expects work on the project to begin during the summer construction season.

According to the DEP’s project description, Unkamet Brook is a tributary to the East Branch of the Housatonic River, which has been choked with sediment that impedes the flow of water, resulting in stagnant pools. During storm events, the built-up sediment impedes flow, causing channel erosion, damage to roads and property, and localized flooding.

The corrective actions will include final design, engineering, and implementation of Best Management Practices, securing legal easements from affected abutters, and outreach and education to watershed residents to encourage good homeowner practices, reparian buffers, and Low Impact Development Best Management Practices.

The City Council will be asked to accept the grant funding at its upcoming Feb. 13 meeting.
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