Released: November 17, 2023
Delaware County Council joined numerous local elected officials and nearly 100 Delaware County residents at an open house hosted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) to discuss the Army Corps’ tentative proposal to build a 1,400-foot levee. The proposed level would be built along the Cobbs Creek, located at the confluence of Cobbs Creek and the Darby Creek, to control flooding in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia.
The open house was held at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill on November 9, with presentations made by the Army Corps, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), the City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability, and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. A public Q & A session followed.
During the three-hour open house, residents learned that the Army Corps had finalized a draft report that included a “Tentatively Selected Plan” calling for a 1,400 foot earthen levee that would prevent an estimated average of over $4 million in flood damage to infrastructure — including homes, roads, and power lines per year, each year from 2030 to 2080 — but could cause additional flooding for hundreds of structures near the Cobbs and Darby creeks in Delaware County during significant storms.
The Potential Impacts to Delaware County
Although the proposed levee has clear benefits to Eastwick, Delaware County could face additional flooding for as many as 328 structures near the Cobbs Creek and Darby Creek in Delaware County during significant storms. The potential negative impacts to Delaware County include:
Increased flood waters
Potential increase in flood water velocity
Potential environmental impacts including the disruption of wildlife habitat and soil erosion
Potential downstream sedimentation
Residents and local officials participated in a nearly two-hour Q & A session following the presentations, asking tough questions, and providing strong feedback regarding the Army Corps’ proposal.
Concerns voiced by attendees included the potential increased flooding of low-lying properties, the disturbance of contaminated soils and previously remediated toxic sites, the possible contamination of water tables, the possible need for residents to obtain flood insurance (or the possible increases in existing flood insurance premiums), to skepticism regarding Army Corps assurances due in part to past levee failures such as those that occurred during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Army Corps representatives and presenters from various agencies listened to residents who chose to speak and assured attendees that no final decisions had been made and that the Tentatively Selected Plan would continue to be assessed and potentially revised well after the stated November 30 deadline for public comment.
Timing of the Eastwick Levee Open House
The Eastwick project had been initiated by the City of Philadelphia over four years ago to address repeatedly flooding in the Eastwick section of the city.
At the direction of County Council, the Delaware County Planning Department requested the Army Corps host an open house to provide a formal forum for the County and affected Delaware County residents to gather information and provide feedback regarding the $13M project.
Public Feedback Sought: November 30 Deadline
The Army Corps’ study is ongoing, and the final plan may be change due to public feedback and the resulting exploration of alternative solutions to flooding in Eastwick. The public is encouraged to provide feedback, which will help Delaware County Council and the Delaware County Planning Department develop a response to the levee proposal and potential future work to address flooding in the county.
Those who could not attend the November 9 open house can still submit comments by mail or online AND submit a survey through November 30.
Submit comments by email: PDPA-NAP@usace.army.mil
Submit comments by mail: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Take the Survey available at DelcoPA.Gov/EastwickLeveeASurvey
Council and the Delaware County Planning Department will be submitting comments articulating their many concerns. Council and the Planning Department are following this closely to ensure that Delaware County residents are not negatively affected by whatever plan is eventually put in place.
While the deadline to submit feedback was set by the Army Corps for November 30, 2023, Delaware County has submitted a formal request to extend the deadline for public comment and will inform the public in the event that the Army Corps agrees to an extension.
Read the Draft Report
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ draft report, titled “Eastwick Flood Risk Management Study,” can be downloaded, along with an Executive Summary and related planning appendices and supporting documents, at https://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Eastwick-Flood-Risk-Management-Study/. The draft report includes the ‘Tentatively Selected Plan,’ which includes details of the impact on flooding in the area around the proposed 1400-foot levee within the Eastwick Regional Park and Clearview Landfill.