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April 12, 2014

New reservoir helps to prevent flooding in Peabody

PEABODY — Thanks to the city’s new reservoir, floodwaters have been kept at bay in some neighborhoods and downstream in Peabody Square during recent heavy rains.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt reports that the storm-water retention basin, located on 12 acres off Summit Street known as Scouting Way, passed its first major test late last month by collecting thousands of gallons of water during prolonged rains. In the past, heavy rains would have flooded nearby neighborhoods and headed downtown. That didn’t happen this time.

“The basin performed extremely well, which is very encouraging in terms of our efforts to reduce flooding,” Bettencourt said. “Not only did the basin capture water, which in the past has created significant problems for us, but it also drained very quickly and directed the water toward the proper channels.”

He’s quick to point out that this isn’t a permanent solution to the flooding woes that have plagued Peabody for decades. He said it’s a key component, however, of the city’s plan to prevent or lessen it. Efforts to clear out culverts and catch basins have also helped the downtown stay relatively dry in recent years, except during two or three major storms.

A costly, three-phase project to tear up the downtown, install new culverts and widen the North River canal is still being discussed, the mayor said, but there are no plans to move forward on it now. The first phase would cost the city at least $18 million. Installing retention ponds in other key areas might be a more affordable option, he said.

The new retention basin, which can hold 2.8 million gallons of storm water at a time, was substantially completed last fall, with only a punch list of items remaining to be done. The city spent $2.2 million on the project.

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