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Column

Improved levees an investment in Tiskilwa’s future

A federal agency says Tiskilwa needs to pay $200,000 to upgrade its levees for protection against flooding. The village should take the advice to heart and look at the expense not as a cost, but as an investment in the future.

It will cost at least $200,000 to upgrade the levees that protect the village of Tiskilwa from flooding, as announced by representatives of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The current levees, built in the 1970s, need to be taller and wider to meet new regulations, FEMA says, according to what village leaders reported at a meeting last week.

We can understand the village’s reluctance to pay a lot more money for protection against floodwaters.

After all, a big investment was already made when levees were built more than 40 years ago. So far, they’ve held, even several years ago when Big Bureau Creek had what some consider to have been a 100-year flood.

And indeed, it might appear to some that FEMA is asking the village to reinvent the wheel.

Village officials are investigating cheaper ways to get around the proposed levee upgrade to meet new federal regulations, and they’re correct to do so.

What right-minded local government official would not want to explore all possible options? An amount like that – $200,000 – doesn’t just grow on trees.

We’re all in favor of economizing in government spending.

However, in the event of a series of heavy rainstorms, those economies might not hold much water.

We all saw how the Houston area was deluged with 50 inches of rain during and after Hurricane Harvey, and how much damage that water caused.

We hope such deluges never hit Bureau County.

But communities in lower-lying areas, such as Tiskilwa, the “Gem of the Valley,” must be adequately protected.

FEMA, which has expertise in such matters, doesn’t think that is the case at present.

But where to come up with $200,000?

There are likely loan programs, or possibly grants.

Might other units of government be approached to help?

We’d start with the Arispie and Indiantown township boards, and go on to the Bureau County government itself. Tiskilwa’s residents, after all, are constituents of those governmental entities.

A last resort would be some sort of modest tax increase so that residents would help to shoulder the financial burden of their protection from floodwaters.

As far as levee upgrades are concerned, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry. Improved levees, as suggested by FEMA, would be a wise investment in Tiskilwa’s future.

- Bureau County Republican

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