The Trouble with Trickles
Rain is a problem in DuPage County.
You know this if you live in Warrenville, or if you drive along Geneva Road in West Chicago very often.
The County is not doing enough about it, though. The problem here comes in a few forms.
First is the lack of information. This map and the rest of them like it show the areas predicted to flood from studies done by the federal government and County. It shows almost no flood zones along roads or in neighborhoods that flood at least annually. Geneva road in the first map (low-center) becomes impassable more than once a year.
There's no recognition of these areas as places that even flood at least once in a hundred years. Yet they flood constantly.
Then there's the problem of acknowledging climate change. The Midwest is going to see increased rainfall and flooding as the climate changes. It is not longer good enough to build for the floods of today; we must build for the floods our children will see.
The lack of information stops the County Board from being able to devote the resources necessary to protect our homes, schools, and businesses from floods. It prevents us from being able to figure out the true scope of what needs to be done -- which leads to the next issue.
The County does not fight floods in the right ways.
The policy of the stormwater management committee, headed by Jim Zay, for years seemed to be focused on buying out properties that were at risk of flooding. This is an expensive process that can quickly run into millions of dollars. Even the current flood management plan for part of the DuPage River focuses heavily on "acquisition" of property in areas that might flood.
For Warrenville and Lisle this means buying up prime real-estate and refusing to allow businesses or homes to exist there. Riverside properties can be purchased and never used.
That's a cop out. It's not looking at the bigger picture. It's the short and easy way to get through the problem without giving much thought.
Properties should only be bought when they will allow a project to stop flooding, not just to avoid a single house flooding. This isn't an issue of single houses flooding, it's an issue of our entire County being at risk.
The last piece is that there is no change. We have had a flooding problem for years. Still, it isn't fixed. It will be worse years from now. Still, we haven't prepared.
We need a change in who leads the stormwater management committee. We need a change in thinking and perspective on the County Board to unstick this mess and work to alleviate floods.
We need a renewed focus on lives being ruined by floods.
There is good news. Change can come. It will be slow, but new policies and projects can help alleviate the flooded forests, roads, homes, and businesses. Working with communities to understand the problems they face can help identify where effort is needed. Talking to experts to find what paths the rain will follow can help us adapt to a changing situation.
A change is needed to keep DuPage from just treading water. That change needs to be now, otherwise the rain will just keep on coming.