In the News  Support for Bonding Authority  

Support for Bonding Authority

POSTED: MONDAY, MAY 2, 2016 1:05 AM

Omaha World Herald

A ‘for’ vote fights floods

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District is seeking an increase in its bonding authority for flood control projects.

To understand why, voters need look no further than Ames, Iowa. Six years ago, Ames was deluged by 8 to 9.5 inches of rain in three days. Flooding left one person dead and caused $40 million in damages to Iowa State University.

If such a 100-year flood occurred in the Omaha area’s Papillion Creek Watershed, an engineering study projects it would displace more than 13,000 people and cause $2.1 billion in damage, including more than $600 million to public infrastructure. Unsettling statistics, given the recent rise in dramatic flooding events across the country.

NRD officials say building additional dams and other projects could reduce the flood risk significantly. They have identified six projects as priorities, stretching from Papillion to Gretna: three new dams, a water quality basin, a levee rehabilitation project and a floodway purchase program.

The six-county agency is asking voters to increase its bond-levy authority by 1 cent per $100 in property valuation, doubling the current 1-cent levy authority. If approved, the NRD could raise an estimated $80 million for the projects, says General Manager John Winkler.
As the Omaha metro area continues to grow, the clock is ticking on acquiring the land needed for these projects. Property owners in the six priority areas are prepared to sell.

By building soon, the NRD could take advantage of historically low interest rates. Land prices and construction costs will go nowhere but up.
And once the land is sold for development, it’s lost for flood control forever.

In addition to flood control, the reservoirs would provide public recreation and bring economic development advantages by removing land from the flood plain designation.

With the NRD’s bonding authority set to expire in 2019, this could be its last chance to tackle these worthwhile projects. Taxpayers would be wise to vote FOR this ballot issue on May 10.