Maine’s coastal communities will benefit from new technology, now that a federal stimulus grant will help pay for new flood plain mapping.

The grant comes just in time for towns and cities in York and Cumberland counties, which are required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update decades-old flood plain maps by the summer of 2011.

The $1.4 million grant was made possible by a bill that the Legislature passed and Gov. John Baldacci signed on March 18. The law created a flood plain mapping fund.

Maine won the grant money by joining with the four other coastal New England states and sections of New York including the Hudson River Valley.

Along with the federal money, of which Maine will get $487,000, private and state funding will be used.

The new mapping method, called LiDAR, uses plane-based laser technology and extremely accurate measurements to calculate the altitude of land within 1 foot.

Along the coast, geologists are looking forward to having a new tool to observe how the shoreline has changed.

The initial phase of the project will encompass the state’s coastline and the shorelines of the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers to the heads of tide. State planners eventually want to use the technology to map the entire state.

“There will be much more detail on the nature of the landscape,” said state geologist Bob Marvinney. “We fully intend to keep pursuing opportunities like this to continue the program.”

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Ethan Wilensky-Lanford can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]