Why Your County Needs Better Stormwater Maintenance
Maintaining existing flood infrastructure is necessary to keep communities safe
Go deeper: Consider Horry County, S.C. The county has a stormwater drainage system that includes culverts, ditches, drains, and swales. The county also has a flood maintenance backlog of nearly 600 projects from the past 4+ years. This lack of upkeep contributed to the severity of a flood event in early 2021 that turned closed as many as 92 roads at one time across the county.
Similarly, Escambia County, Fla. has taken over an impressive 400+ retention and holding ponds since 2002, but they lack the staff to maintain them.
What the experts say: “Operationally, we are budgeted below our 2006 level… Our biggest challenge is manpower. Being able to acquire manpower and retain manpower. That’s our biggest challenge,” Escambia County Public Works Director Wes Moreno said at a county meeting.
Politicians don’t prioritize flood maintenance. Like many things flooding, maintenance doesn’t get the attention it deserves from elected officials. Politicians prefer projects that can be seen, like new roads or sidewalks, and proper maintenance doesn’t generate impressive headlines. But ignoring maintenance adds up for counties and taxpayers.
Take action: Elected officials will continue to neglect flood maintenance because they don’t think voters care about it. Residents routinely impacted by flooding can and should ask for new projects and infrastructure, but sometimes it is just as important to ask for simple maintenance and repairs to existing infrastructure.