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Bucks Cty. community is learning the tao and the Dow of levees p2

4/19/2014 | Real Estate Blog

We are talking about Maple Beach, a very small neighborhood of Bristol Township in Bucks County, and its residents’ concerns over a levee. The levee was constructed by a chemical company 80 years ago, and the company, now Dow Chemical Co., maintained its federal certification until recently. Dow has decided to let the certification lapse, and the residents of Maple Beach are not happy about that.

The levee stands between the four homes that comprise Maple Beach and the Delaware River. On the other side of the neighborhood are a few hundred acres of undeveloped property. If Dow does not maintain the levee to federal standards, the residents say, the levee will deteriorate, and the risk of it failing will increase greatly. If the levee fails, the residents add, their houses and that land will be flooded.

The greater risk of flooding raises other issues for the homeowners as well. For example, the residents with mortgages will have to buy flood insurance. Flood insurance is not only expensive, but it can lower property values. Buyers could be put off by the added cost of the insurance, and they may well think twice about investing in an area that could be washed away if another Superstorm Sandy comes along.

The flood risk could slow or kill Bristol Township’s hopes of developing the open land. The mostly residential township needs the tax revenue badly. The Maple Beach homeowners would like to see the land developed, too, if only to reduce their own taxes.

Dow explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer that the levee was not originally certified because of the homes in the area. The federal government required certification because the chemical company had placed tanks nearby that stored hazardous materials. Those tanks were taken away 10 years ago, Dow said, eliminating the need for federal certification.

Dow, by the way, is not alone in its decision to let the levee’s federal certification lapse. We’ll discuss the other cases in our next post.

Source:, “Bucks County levee issue causes concern,” Ben Finley (The Inquirer), April 7, 2014