The wait for a flood study is unnerving

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Once again we are disheartened by the news that a study to better grasp why the Blackwater, Nottoway and Meherrin rivers are prone to flood is on hold in Congress for at least another year.

We trust Franklin Mayor Jim Councill when he says that this region’s congressional delegation — U.S. Sens. John Warner and Jim Webb and U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes — has done everything in its power to get funding for the study approved. The fact that the study won’t happen in the 2008 budget year, which began Monday, is no less frustrating, though.

After two major floods in seven years, this community can’t afford to wait another year to determine the causes and possible solutions.

Warner and Webb have made their backing public, and it was Forbes who offered a House resolution in the spring supporting the Corps of Engineers study after it was removed from a Senate bill that would have funded the study in 2008.

Forbes’ resolution at least keeps funding alive for the 2009 budget year.

But why should it take that long? The legislative maneuvering is evidence of a government that works way too slowly on matters for which time is of essence.

The problem certainly is not cost. About $250,000 is needed for the Corps to examine “flood damage reduction, environmental restoration, navigation, erosion control and associated water resources issues in the Chowan River Basin, Virginia and North Carolina,” according to Forbes’ resolution.

Gaining that important information would go a long way to understanding the river, how it’s changed over the last generation and what we can do to better manage the floodwaters.

In this day and age, $250,000 is a pittance when it comes to government spending.

Councill said Corps of Engineers representatives called the study their “No. 1 priority” for the next budget year.

It’s time to hold the federal government accountable and to make sure those words are backed with some action.