It is not often that a common-sense solution makes it to the newspaper. In this case the Assistant Editor of The Chronicle, Brian Mittge, has created an excellent solution to the flooding problems which thousands of Chehalis River watershed residents face.
As a worn out former water quality and flooding activist, and as someone who has had water in his home 4 times, I really support what Mr. Mittge suggests.
I hope this solution attracts the due consideration and the official backing which it deserves.
Local officials could begin building a community safe from flood devastation by adding these requirements to development regulations:
Build High -- The floors of all new developments in the Twin Cities should be 10 feet above the high water mark of that neighborhood's record flood. This means the ground floor of all new buildings could be a garage, storage area, roller-skating rink, or anything else that can be hosed down instead of torn apart during flood cleanup. Washington Home Center, as detailed in last Saturday's Life section, features just such a home.
Help the Neighbors -- Builders who are filling during development in an established neighborhood should pay a "floodplain fee" -- similar to the latecomer fees they already pay to hook into existing sewage and water pipes -- into an elevation fund based on the amount of fill they use. Neighbors who are willing to put up half the cost to elevate their own homes could apply for a match from this fund.
Excavate as You Fill -- All fill dirt placed in the Chehalis and Cowlitz valleys should be matched by 1 ?« times as much dirt being removed from the floodplain within a half-mile of the site, with trenches leading out of the new excavation to allow that water to drain between high rains.
Stop filling wetlands --in the uplands and down in the valleys. Swamps, sometimes described as sponges, act as reservoirs to collect rainfall, releasing it to the ground and surrounding streams relatively slowly. This reduces the "flashiness" of runoff; a swamp-turned-lake in the woods retains more floodwater than a pasture or gravel bed.
Source: The Chronicle January 22, 2009
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