We're All Downstream From Someone
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
December 9, 2004

Yes, we must all remember that even far northern Bexar County is downstream from the upstream, developing counties!  The further downstream you go however, the more runoff water picks up volume and speed. 

What I witnessed way downstream in the twenty-four hours after the recent torrential rain at East Southcross and the Salado Creek Bridge was of biblical proportions.  Perhaps previous flood situations created the same amount of water, but for some reason, this time it was a veritable ocean.  Before waiting for memories to somewhat fade, I thought to immediately call a news conference to discuss submitting a $300 million flood control bond issue to voters.  We simply must get ahead of the power curve of the ballpark $750 million in flood control projects that will not otherwise be reached through normal budget allocations.  The following is the thrust of my statement at the news conference.

Having endured two, 500-year floods in a four-year period (1998 and 2002) and now a third flood this year of seemingly similar proportions, it is clear that something more dramatic is called for to add to the current flood control plan: resources.  How we could experience such extraordinary rains and hence flooding within such a few short years is a mystery, but the growing inadequacy of our historical efforts is in my opinion, real. 

Many of us who have lived here all our lives have watched our creeks, streams and in general our watershed handle increasing amounts of water.  This is consistent with the growth of the community.  Rooftops, pavement and concrete have combined to pour unprecedented volumes of water on everyone and everything between the point of rainfall and the ultimate destination downstream. 

This brings to mind the twin sisters of responsible flood control: retention and release.  What we have done and must do to arrest runoff is one-half of the solution.  The other half is release capability of getting the water to adequately flow down our creeks. 

Over many years now, Bexar County with its flood tax generating $7.9 million annually, the City of San Antonio with its drainage budget and the San Antonio River Authority with its multiple revenue sources have worked together to address significant flooding in Bexar County.  These entities have identified about $750 million in identified flood control needs.  Great progress is being made.  Projects worth $122.5 million are funded and underway.  Projects estimated at around $600 million are either evaluated or pending evaluation.  Chipping away at the roughly $600 million will take time that we cannot gamble with. 

Perhaps the projected investment would work if we had normal rainfall, but we have not had the average rainfall of about 29.05 inches reported by the National Weather Service.  In fact from 2000-2004 we have had an average of at least 38.55 inches in annual rainfall!  Bexar County simply must be better prepared to meet the needs of a highly developed landscape in moments of greatest rainfall!

Therefore I am proposing that Bexar County submit to voters a $300 million bond issue next May to accelerate the process of more responsively and more responsibly addressing the flood control needs of our Community.  I do not do this lightly.  I simply do not want to ever be in the position of regretting that I did not address such an obvious problem to all of us downstream.  Ultimately though, you must decide at the ballot box!

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