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Bucks Cty. community is learning the tao and the Dow of levees p3

4/21/2014 | Real Estate Blog

We saw an article recently about a women’s prison in Manhattan, just a block or two away from the Hudson River. During Superstorm Sandy, the river swelled and flooded the buildings. There was enough damage to keep the prison from reopening. It is now up for sale.

We bring it up because it is just one example of the damage done by a storm like Sandy. The idea of that kind of storm surge has people up and down the East Coast wondering about living near the shore or the banks of a river — a river like the Delaware River, say. We have been talking about one small neighborhood in Bristol Township, Bucks County, that sits along the Delaware and is involved in a dispute with Dow Chemical Co. over a levee and federal certification.

The Maple Beach levee seems to be in good condition, but there are other levees around the country that are not. And those communities have faced tough choices about whether to invest in federal certification. The process is expensive and, according to Dow, not necessary; a levee can be structurally sound without the federal government’s stamp of approval.

A city along the Minnesota River that owns its levees abandoned the idea of federal certification. To bring the levees up to code, the city would have to spend $12 million. The upshot, though, is that the town’s riverfront properties would now likely be on a flood plain; homeowners would have to buy flood insurance.

Another levee in western Pennsylvania faced a similar fate: The town could not afford to maintain it to federal standards. Without that certification, though, more than 100 houses would be at risk. The town was fortunate enough to win a state grant; the $450,000 kept the certification from lapsing.

There is one interesting difference between these levees and the one in Maple Beach, however. These are owned and maintained by the local governments. The levee in Maple Beach belongs to Dow.

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