To the editor:
The city of Lansing has done an outstanding job of floodplain management for the regulatory floodplain as defined and mapped as part of the national flood insurance program (NFIP). The public works department and other city staff involved should be recognized and commended for their diligence.
Lansing City Councils since 1980 have agreed to remain in the NFIP, and should be commended for their continuing participation. That said and acknowledged, will that success be extended, and this budget preparation cycle for the 2017 budget be the one that brings planning and funding to begin addressing Lansing's localized stormwater drainage issues?
The city engineer in his annual inspections of specific localized stormwater drainage issues, some in the regulatory floodplain and many throughout other parts of town, has identified over $2 million worth of needed work that needs to be designed and contracted. Not included in that number are miles of underground storm sewers, many quite old, that have yet to be inspected.
These are projects that require manpower and equipment resources that are not available within the city organization, and need to be designed, have contract documents prepared, and be let for bid.
The projects include large culverts that are deteriorating or failing, paved storm channels that are failing, areas of private property that flood, private property and public rights-of-way that are eroding and land being lost, areas of standing/stagnant water, and other nuisances caused by stormwater runoff.
The inspection reports prioritize the projects in order of critical importance. A number of years ago the city stopped budgeting the 2 mils that had been earmarked for these types of projects. Since that time, the projects have been ignored except when complaints about some of the smaller projects have spurred the Council to have staff divert money from other needs to correct a particular problem no matter where it ranked on the priority list.
The City Council has been formally briefed on three separate occasions about the potential for forming a stormwater utility to provide a dedicated source of funds for these kinds of projects, but to date the Council has not moved to do so, nor has it budgeted money for this purpose from the general fund. These problem areas become larger and more destructive over time, and the cost of construction to correct them increases every year.
For the sake of numerous residents who are affected by these problems, it would be wonderful to see the Lansing governing body build on their successful floodplain management program and begin in their 2017 budget to address the numerous specific stormwater-related problems across the city.