Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 2, 2013

Shawsheen River flood gauge is public safety need


The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

As everyone who lives in Andover knows, the Shawsheen River has overflowed its banks several times over the last decade, causing significant property loss as well as endangering public safety.

Town Meeting warrant article P60 Streamgage Station on the Shawsheen River is asking the town to fund $15,000 per year to maintain a flood river gauge on the Shawsheen River at Balmoral Street.

It is a great disappointment that the town selectmen and Finance Committee recommended disapproval.

The flood gauge benefits everyone in town, not just those living along the river. The data collected at the gauge location will allow for the production of flood inundation maps as well as prediction of imminent flooding.

This will enable the town and residents to make real-time decisions about travel routes, property protection, evacuation and emergency response preparedness.

During the latest flood in 2010, when the gauge was operational, evacuation was completed well in advance of the river being flooded. Had this not been in place, it is possible that the town Fire Department and other public safety personnel would have put their staff in harm’s way to evacuate residents in boats, which was the case in the 2006 Mother’s Day flood because there was no advance warning of flooding.

This saving alone would pay for the cost to maintain the gauge. In the interest of public safety, we are asking registered voters to attend the Town Meeting and vote yes for P60.

J. Barry Mahoney

Trustee, Washington Park Condominium Association

Trustee, Balmoral Condominium Association