To the editor:
Mayor Justin Wilson’s monthly newsletter’s article on the July 23 flooding seems designed to indirectly respond to your July 30 editorial, “A flood of poor policies,” point-by-point. More frequent flooding must be caused by global warming, the mayor’s newsletter informs us, as if the area has not had a long history of flooding.
Flooding affected the older parts of town, the mayor’s newsletter tells us, not where new dense developments have lately been approved because city council has required them to have stormwater management plans. The mayor’s newsletter would almost have us believe that these new dense developments’ stormwater management plans would send the rainwater back into the sky.
Instead, the rainwater which, as your editorial observes, would have soaked into the ground of a lot that’s empty or only half-occupied, ends up in the storm drain. And by the time all this water gets to the older parts of town, which happen to also be the lowest parts of town, there isn’t enough room left in the pipe to take on the run-off from the older and lower parts of town because the pipe is already full from the rainwater which, before the dense development, would have soaked in where it fell.
But now stormwater management plans have it in the pipes under the street, which somehow haven’t gotten any bigger even though all these stormwater management plans are directing more stormwater into them.
In city hall’s sort of magical thinking, dense development has to be good because it generates campaign contributions which get politicians reelected and fills the city, which only a few decades ago had a population of under one hundred thousand with tens of thousands of new residents.
Any fact which contradicts this has to be explained away, obfuscated with fancy dodges, such as stormwater management plans, or ignored. Legions of staff and consultants are employed on stormwater management plans and other such strategies to disguise the obvious: that more development will mean a host of impacts which city hall wants to quietly sweep under the rug.
Your editorial should have finished putting the pieces together by calling the “stormwater utility fee” nearly all properties are expected to pay the “development subsidy” which it is. And your editorial should have called on some independent and trustworthy outside group, such as the Environmental Council of Alexandria, to commission a study of the hidden fiscal and environmental impacts of all this dense development city hall is facilitating.
-Dino Drudi, Alexandria