As a village trustee and a northeast Oak Parker, I have had an opportunity to view this summer’s flood problem from a couple of different perspectives. I have struggled, like so many other residents, to rid my basement of water taken on during our series of extraordinary storms these past several months.
I have also sat at the board table in village hall and listened to fellow Oak Parkers vent their frustration about a problem that is widespread — far beyond the northeastern section of our village, by all accounts — and clearly has yet to be solved.
A great many Oak Parkers have organized around this issue in order to make their voices heard and obtain some measure of relief and prevention. Their efforts have been impressive, but the fact that these efforts were necessary is an unfortunate testament to the lack of an adequate plan to prepare for this summer’s deluge and its impact on our residents.
Clearly, something must be done. Our failure to secure federal funds for remediation means, as many residents have already pointed out, that this is, for better or worse, a local problem.
Therefore, the onus is on us — the village and its elected officials — to see to it that the problem is solved. As staff pointed out during our last board discussion of this issue, several of our rainfalls this summer have been classified as “extraordinary,” or “50- to 100-year events.”
After this summer, I think we can all agree that the “extraordinary” is becoming “ordinary.” There are no more excuses. If our sewer lines lack the capacity to deal with the “new normal,” then we need to increase capacity.
While sending cameras through the sewers to definitively diagnosis the weaknesses in our system will not pay for waterproofing residents’ basements, it will provide an objective basis for action. After that initial step, we should move immediately to fix the fundamental problem and increase the capacity of our sewers to handle increased rainfall.
Our taxpayers deserve adequate infrastructure. And next summer, Oak Parkers should not have to contend with flooding on this unmanageable scale.
Adam Salzman is a northeast Oak Parker currently serving his first term as village trustee.