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Editorial: Flooding workshops are vital

Editorial: Flooding workshops are vital

Trio of workshops this week will focus on Mohawk flooding. Public involvement will be vital to enacting solutions
Editorial: Flooding workshops are vital
Ingersoll Avenue in Schenectady's Stockade neighborhood after Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

Once all the engineers and experts and public officials get done talking about the solutions for flooding along the Mohawk River, after they get done holding their workshops and conducting their studies and issuing their reports, it’s going to be the citizens’ turn to convert it all into a solution.

That’s why it’s vitally important for residents impacted by the flooding — and that includes not just people living in the flood zone, but those concerned about vulnerable communities and all others indirectly impacted by the costs — to attend and participate in the three-day local workshop that starts tonight.

The workshops will feature a public discussion tonight, a presentation of potential design alternatives for mitigating the flooding on Wednesday, and a recap and look to the future on Thursday.

More: Multi-day Stockade flood workshop begins Monday in Schenectady

The main goal of the workshops is to coalesce all the research and data being conducted into one master plan, which could include such efforts as building flood walls and natural barriers along vulnerable sections of the river, moving buildings located in flood-prone areas to higher locations, installing gates and modifying dams to control flooding during heavy-rain events and to mitigate the creation of ice dams.

So why is attending these particular workshops at this particular time important? We’ve attended so many talks over the years. Isn’t this just another one?

Well, to quote the great Elvis Presley, the time is soon coming for a “little less conversation, a little more action.”

We can talk solutions to death. One professor has been studying this issue for 20 years. The first Mohawk Watershed Symposium was held a decade ago. Tropical Storm Irene was eight years ago. And we’re still talking about this.

Yet each spring and winter that passes without action to alleviate the flooding exposes more homes to damage or destruction, costs taxpayers and residents more money in mitigation efforts, and pushes the problem down the road for future generations to deal with. Last year’s ice jam on the Mohawk was 17 miles long. The problem isn’t going away.

We want solutions that will work. We want it done right. But at some point, we’re going to want it done. 

That time is coming, as researchers on the federal and state level complete their studies and begin to file their reports.

So this is a crucial time for the public to get involved.

Attending these forums will give local citizens and public officials the latest information they need to make informed decisions.

Once they understand the problem and potential solutions, they can then begin lobbying their representatives in the state Legislature and Congress for funding. They can put the pressure on to force state and federal officials to enact the recommendations of their reports, not just continuing the talking. They can share with others the results of the studies so those people can add their voices.

This problem has been going on for decades, and the solutions to it are complex and expensive. 

Now, as the solutions become more clear, it is the time for more citizens to get involved, get informed, and to make their views heard.

By attending one or all of this week’s workshops, it will help push solutions to the flooding problem on the Mohawk River away from conversation and on to action.
 

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