October 18, 2019

Latest flood proves more needs to be done - Daily Leader Extra : Editorials

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Latest flood proves more needs to be done

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:32 pm

Madison and the surrounding area is battling another flood, an occurrence that seems to be more frequent.

Whether it's an anomaly, a global warming phenomenon or some other trend, we believe more needs to be done to minimize risk to people and to reduce risk of damage to property.

To be clear, a lot has been done in recent decades to improve the storm water drainage system. Creek bridges have been replaced, shorelines along both creeks and lakes have been stabilized with rock, and houses and businesses along creeks have been purchased and either moved or torn down.

While some observers think this flood event was caused by a rare wet summer followed by rare September deluge, we also thought the same thing about flooding across Highway 81 eighteen miles north of Madison in the twin lakes area. The high water there has have not subsided, but actually risen steadily over recent decades, causing that roadway to be raised substantially (more than 10 feet) twice.

So what more can be done in Lake County?

We believe further mitigation would include several things, but the whole watershed needs to be considered. Water flowing through Madison comes essentially from the entire northwest part of our county, through Lake Herman and other creeks, then through the city to Lake Madison, Round Lake and Brant Lake. We probably need to make improvements at all places in the watershed.

Flood buyout properties might be a potential solution. While the green spaces have been partially effective in gathering rainwater, we think many of those properties can be engineered to help even more. If they were shaped into detention ponds, the properties could perhaps reduce the flow through the city at peak times.

More bridges in Madison are scheduled to be replaced, which would prevent the blockage that often causes the worst problems. And more buildings may need to be removed from the flood plain.

We are grateful for the extraordinary response of all those who are helping those in need. We'd like to reduce the number of times those responders are needed in the future.

-- Jon M. Hunter