To the editor:
During the Newbury selectmen’s meeting held on Tuesday, April 9, at which the permit for a solar farm on the Pikul Scotland Road property was discussed, Donna Pikul made a statement blaming the culvert on Hale Street in Newburyport for the flooding on her property. Whether she is referring to the culvert
on Hale Street near the I-95 overpass or the one near the Comcast building, Mrs. Pikul has it exactly backward. The culverts under Hale Street are actually a saving grace for the Pikul and neighboring properties downstream.
Both of these culverts are undersized and cause a significant amount of flooding upstream during large storms. The one directly north of the Pikul property, near the Comcast building, is significantly undersized and routinely backs up during heavy rains. As a result, both the residential area and the eastern border of the Cooper North Pasture Preserve flood. In very large storms like the Mother’s Day Storm in 2006, the water rises to the height of Hale Street before it flows over and downstream. The end result is all the water that builds up north of Hale Street is detained and let out more slowly, allowing the water downstream more time to drain.
If these culverts were properly sized to today’s standards, flooding to the north would be greatly reduced. The culvert near Comcast, which consists of two concrete pipes, is rapidly deteriorating due to the scouring caused by all the heavy flow. When that culvert or the roadbed around it fails, and it will fail much sooner than later, its replacement will have to meet the new stream crossing standards. It will most likely have to be replaced by a box culvert with a much larger opening. The result during major storm events will be far less, if any, water backing up behind the new culvert and will almost certainly increase flooding in the fields downstream.
The Newbury selectmen may also want to consider this eventuality when making a decision on the solar farm permit.