Guest Column: There's no flooding problem…it's a drainage issue

“There’s no flooding problem … It’s a drainage issue!” —Mayor James Gitz WFRL-radio 2/9/05

Huh?! Talk about lawyerly semantics and hair-splitting! IF YOU NEED TO DRAIN AN AREA—THERE IS A FLOODING PROBLEM!!!

Improper development is the primary contributor to the destruction of watersheds; I found a DNR Web site that said the Sugar Creek/Pecatonica watersheds are being altered and destroyed the fastest in Illinois.

Did you know properly designed and managed storm sewers limit flooding? Give the water a place to go, or it will go in someone else’s yard or basement! If you develop in low-lying areas, you WILL have future problems.

In the Yellow Creek watershed, there are virtually no storm sewers, drainage ditches, detention ponds; past development has caused a water problem, additional development would aggravate that problem.

Residents near Yellow Creek testified to the Planning Commission and Community Development Committee about the increasing flooding incidence, erosion and damage to property as local government allows “unsmart” environmentally insensitive development like the proposed “Edge of the Meadows.”

Gitz chastised residents telling them their pictures and testimony were only “anecdotal”; that his 2-year-old Fehr-Graham study says there is no flooding problem – “there is just a little water in a field” [WIFR-TV]—I guess the water hasn’t read the study.

Should we waste public money to hire private firms to tell us the opposite of what the Army Corps of Engineers, DNR and/or FEMA say? Past studies say the area should not be developed.

How hard is it for me to pay a private consultant to give me the recommendation I want?

A recent Journal Standard editorial said no mayoral candidate is talking about land use—I have been since before becoming a candidate!

We have a good plan—the 1980 Comprehensive Plan—it clearly says such areas should remain “green space” for flood control.

We don’t need expensive engineer studies—all we need is a topography map (elevations), a federal flood map, and witness testimony of where the water goes.

In June 1999, FEMA and the DNR spoke about flooding issues; they said for every cubic foot of development, you need a cubic foot and one-half of water detention space; they said do not fill in low land.

You MUST give water a place to go to prevent “inverse condemnation”—the taking of land from damage due to someone’s improper development.

Marianne “Gasoline” Garvens is a resident of Freeport, Ill.

From the March 30-April 5, 2005 issue

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