LETTER: Building in floodplains made Port flooding more damaging

To Ozaukee Press:

The recent flooding along Spring Street and Veterans Park underscores a couple of planning issues that Port Washington would do well to heed, namely, development patterns and zoning in floodplains.

When houses were first built along Spring Street, little was likely known about the flow patterns of streams.  Floodplains—the areas adjacent to streams and rivers that absorb flood waters—are as much a part of a flowage as is the stream bed itself. The difference between the two is that water flows along the steam bed consistently, but flows only intermittently along the flood  plain when heavy rains cause the stream to overflow its banks.

It is the intermittent aspect of a flood plain that most planners fail to take into consideration when deciding what land is prime for development. Constructing buildings in a floodplain virtually guarantees that those structures, such as along Spring Street, will experience flooding at some point. And as more development occurs upstream and streams are channelized, it only increases the frequency and severity of flooding downstream, as with the condos near Valley Creek and Veterans Park.

Comprehensive land use planning takes into account the impact of upstream development on downstream inhabitants, and also reserves floodplains for absorbing flood waters, not flooding houses.

There are few forces in nature more powerful than water. Understanding and working with nature, instead of against it, would likely make for more successful planning and flood mitigation efforts.

Joyce Harms
Port Washington

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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