The layer effect

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Daily Herald editorial

Ongoing discussions between the city of Austin and the new Cedar River Watershed District over how to protect the city’s North Main Street area from Cedar River flooding demonstrate one of the chief dangers of adding more layers of government: Delay and more delay.

We have noted before that we support the CRWD’s mission, which includes both flood management and pollution control in the Cedar River’s watershed. The taxpayer-supported agency has significant power to make rules and regulate activities in the watershed, including Austin’s need for protection from seemingly ever-more-frequent flood events.

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The city has a plan to build flood control berms that its engineering firm believes will solve the problem. The CRWD is apparently not convinced and, although its board continues to say that it does not want to hold up Austin flood control work, delay seems to be the net result of this new layer of government. What we wonder is whether there is not some way that the CRWD and city can set a deadline to finalize plans for the North Main Street project, rather than let the matter spin in an eddy between the two governments.

Protecting the Cedar River is important. Protecting Austin from flooding is important. Actually getting something done is also important. Accomplishing any two of those three goals is relatively easy. The challenge comes in achieving all three, and we hope the CRWD is up to the task.