Stormwater could drown progress
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Let’s talk stormwater and gorillas. The natural resources of eastern North Carolina’s coastal and inland areas include the second largest estuarine and wetland system in the US, with over 5,000 miles of estuarine shoreline, eight major drainage basins, and associated wetland systems. Our natural resources have unique features, e.g., pocosins, Outer Banks, capes, and big estuarine water bodies. The region’s lowland yields fishing, back-water paddle adventures and other water related opportunities. The treasure of River Park North is to a large degree water based. We should continue working hard to take advantage of the river running through our city and the ecotourism opportunities presented.
However, there’s a downside, a big one — stormwater. It’s a 380-million dollar gorilla, and tackling it will take strong leadership, persistence and funding over time. Big, expensive projects — that will cost exponentially more if not addressed in a timely manner — are easily kicked down the road by short-term thinking politicians, at all levels of government. They’re on to their next higher office, leaving a future mess for citizens to suffer and pay to clean up. Greenville’s stormwater has the potential to be such a mess if our officials don’t step up to the plate in a powerful way.
Following a recent thunderstorm, cars were going, appropriately, very slowly due to the flooding in many streets. The inconvenience of flooded streets pales in comparison to the hit our city has taken with major weather events damaging property and putting lives at risk. June 1 is the official beginning of hurricane season, and scientists predict a slightly-above average season.
If we don’t address stormwater infrastructure in a timely fashion and with the kind of focus and thoroughness required, we'll "drown" in it. Economic development efforts, neighborhood quality of life, and our safety will be seriously compromised.