Last month we wrote about Gouldsboro’s need for information from the people who live here about where they are seeing problems with flooding due to big rainfall events and tides. Almost immediately, we heard from someone with a flooding problem. His email raised important questions that we had not addressed in our initial post. He also shared insights into potential concerns about how people might Gouldsboro’s interest in understanding how things are changing. In this post, we try to answer the questions and address the concerns.

Is Gouldsboro Interested in Problems on Private Property?

The writer has a driveway culvert that had washed out. He said that the culvert “accepts water from neighboring property drainage as well as a small wetland area on our lot fed by a free-flowing spring.” He went on to say …

I would love any input as to how to design the solution for future potential torrential rain events.  If this program is not designed for residential concerns, I understand.  But even if you could point me in a direction to a solution would be very much appreciated.  I don’t want to redo this culvert the same as it was first installed only for it to get ruined again in the future. 

We replied that what he described was exactly the kind of information that Gouldsboro is seeking. The town hopes to create a map of places where bigger rain events are beginning to show up as problems.  When the problem is on private property, there may be little that the town can do right away. However, the value to the property owner is that when Gouldsboro places all the reports it receives on a map, and then uses USGS and local mapping data to trace the stream flows, it will be able to identify upstream sources and issues that contribute to the property owner’s problem.

When we looked at the location that the writer was referencing, it turned out that the water coming into his culvert was not just from neighbors’ properties and a spring on his property. We were able to trace upstream to a good-sized watershed that concentrates a lot of water into just a few places, including his property.

Having this kind of information and the evidence from property owners about persistent damage puts Gouldsboro in a position to seek support from the State and other sources to address the causes behind the individual problems. This is win-win. Gouldsboro receives outside financial support to build a more durable town infrastructure and the property owners end up with problems they can manage because the watershed-scale issues have been addressed.

Short Answer: Yes, tell us what is happening on your property. There is a good chance that what you are experiencing has bigger causes that we need to understand and address before you can find a good solution to your local problem.

Increased Regulation and Uninvited Scrutiny?

The writer expressed his appreciation for our reply and our interest in addressing the bigger problems behind the flooding rather than playing whack-a-mole with each culvert. He also told some of his neighbors about this website and the town’s interest in taking a proactive stance toward the increasingly severe rainfall events that are predicted as part of our shared future. He wrote back to say that his neighbors expressed concerns about “opening up a can of worms.” Specifically, they were concerned that sharing information about problems would lead to regulation and uninvited scrutiny.

These concerns are completely understandable. There are three important responses.

The first is that there is no way to address problems in a watershed without looking at the watershed as a system. Without that overarching view of what is happening, there is no way to know how to reroute the water. Having everybody digging and rerouting the water on their own property without any sense of how the pieces fit together will result in more flooding and erosion for everyone

Second, these problems are larger than most property owners can solve on their own. The required investment requires collective action.

Third, Gouldsboro is approaching changes in stormwater movement, higher tides, and storm surges as a community-scale problem. That’s what the Gouldsboro Shore site is all about. Gouldsboro is a small community that has a good history of making decisions collaboratively, even if only after some intense conversations. The town is us, and we need better information about what is happening so that, working together, we can make good decisions.

How to Collaborate and Help

If you are seeing flooding and erosion on your property because of storms or tides, go to the page on this site where you can tell us about what you have seen. The volunteers working in this program will follow up to find out more and to think with you about how what you are seeing fits into the bigger picture of changes on the Schoodic Peninsula.

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