SUNBURY - U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, announced Friday that Sunbury has received a grant of $799,944 for improvements to its stormwater system from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Barletta appeared at a press conference at Sunbury Textile Mills.

A press release from the congressman's office says the grant will make the city more resistant to flooding and be matched with funds from the Sunbury Municipal Authority.

At present, Sunbury's Spring Run Pump Station is served by an undersized, old style stormwater system consisting of terra-cotta and concrete pipes, the press release says. A proposed 71-by-47-inch plastic coated, corrugated metal arch pipe will be installed for stormwater flows, along with an 18-inch pipe for sanitary sewage. Increasing the capacity of the storm water system will allow excess flows during heavy rain events to be conveyed to the pump station, which has the capability of pumping additional storm water into Shamokin Creek. The system will be constructed between Walnut Street and the flood protection levee.

The current system has repeatedly reached capacity during heavy rains, and is unable to discharge excess stormwater to Shamokin Creek or the Susquehanna River, resulting in water back-up and potentially damaging floods.

The most recent example occurred during Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011 when over 12-inches of rain fell in five days. Sunbury Textile Mills was forced to shut down operations, idling 200 employees for several days. Lost wages exceeded $36,000 per day. Critical telecommunications and electrical infrastructure became isolated by the flood waters, according to Barletta's office.

The municipal authority and SEDA-COG will determine the specific start date for the project. The design and permit acquisition phase is expected to take four months, followed by four months to solicit bids and award a contract. Construction is expected to take 16 months.

The total project cost is estimated at $1,346,000. The application to EDA was prepared and submitted by SEDA-COG, which will administer the grant and oversee the project.