County backs flood insfrastructure grant application

HOUGHTON — Houghton County backed a grant application to improve the area’s infrastructure in the event of future floods.

Evan McDonald, a member of the Houghton Planning Commission and the new Keweenaw Resilency Task Force, briefed the county Board on the task force’s work. Formed shortly after last year’s flood, the task force is working on a more coordinated effort to improve the community’s resiliency in the face of future storms.

“If there’s better communication and understanding on what the issues and needs are, then maybe together we can find approaches to make our resources go farther to address the infrastructure needs in the community,” he said.

As a non-profit, it has access to some funding sources governments do not, McDonald said. The board approved a resolution in support of a grant application for one of those sources Tuesday: the National Coastal Resilience Fund, managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. One of the fund’s goals is using green infrastructure approaches to help manage stormwater.

“That’s one of the goals our group had from the begining, was to look at what are some of the more sustainable and natural approaches to helping to manage stormwater in the larger watershed,” McDonald said.

The $125,000 grant would go towards improving infrastructure between Mason and Lake Linden. It would include site assessment and preliminary design for a stormwater mitigation system. Local matches could come from donations or private sources.

The area has cross-jurisdictional issues with drainages and Department of Natural Resources railroad grades, McDonald said.

The group submitted a preproposal and was one of about 16 invited to submit a full proposal.

Because of the federal disaster declaration after the flood and having low-income communities, the community could be eligible for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Floodplain Management Services Program. That program brings in COE hydrologists and engineers and analyze what flood patterns are most likely, then prepare reports to show the biggest risks and vulnerabilities the area has.

The county can request the service at no cost.

Michigan Silver jackets, an interagency collaboration at the state and federal level, could also help. They could help develop a management plan for Portage Lake, which takes in water draining from amny of the communities impacted by the flood.

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