What can we do to reward the government and developers for mitigating flooding?

The 2016 preliminary flood report and common sense conclude that bridges and development are key contributors to the flooding. Well, that, and rainstorms that never end.

A clear mitigation step would be regulations that require properties (rural or urban, public or private) to, at least, report any planned change in the amount of water-absorbing land exposed to recent or predicted flood elevations, obstruction of water flow, or dispositions of water drainage. The report would need to be required as a public posting some time period before any proposals are brought before the planning commissions for approval.

The purpose of the reporting would be to reinforce a planning commission’s requirement to address any drainage changes resulting from new development. If we can convert subjective development codes into quantitative requirements, then, presumably court action would be more successful in ensuring beneficial development. For example, if a developer proposes building houses in a recently flooded area, it should compare negatively to a similar proposal that overlays an existing parking lot. Let’s reward correct behavior.

By the way, from a strictly economic point of view, it’s time we completed the Comite River diversion canal. If we invest $185 million and save $2 billion every 17 years, it is the same as investing $185 million at a 15 percent return. That’s pretty good and doesn’t include reductions in flood insurance costs. We need a realistic estimate of how much it will cost. We need to anticipate the scope of the next catastrophe and it seems like we can do better than whatever financing strategy we’ve been waiting on. And, of course, the issue ain’t just about economics. Floods kill people and cause misery. Let’s take a moment to review the odds and put our chips on the table.

David Bittner

retired engineer

Baton Rouge