Our View: Starkville's storm water problem needs addressing




It might surprise you to know that arid Arizona often has a flooding problem, one that it can do little to mitigate. Despite an average annual rainfall of eight inches, street flooding is a common occurrence during July, referred to as the monsoon season. It's truly remarkable: Two inches of rainfall can make streets impassable, even dangerous.


This is true not only in the city, with its broad expanse of concrete, but in the outlying Sonoma desert as well. The ground is simply too hard for rainwater to soak into the soil, so it follows the slope of the land. Dry riverbeds and washes become raging torrents. Aside from taking care to limit development in areas where these natural water flows are known to occur, there's not much of anything that can be done.


Meanwhile, Starkville's annual rainfall is 54 inches. That's the average. With 40 inches of rain through April, the total for this year is likely to be considerably higher.



That, too, has created flooding problems. After one storm in April, the city listed 30 local streets that were flooded.


The flooding problem cannot be eliminated altogether, but unlike Phoenix, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the flooding.


Tonight, the Board of Aldermen is expected to call a public hearing for changes in its stormwater code. There are two major changes: Stormwater systems will be required for any development of a half-acre or more (the current code sets the requirement at one acre) and new developments must have systems that can handle a "100-year storm" as opposed to the current "10-year storm."


The 100-year requirement is something other cities are beginning to employ and although it may prove costly for developers, ultimately it is a wise and necessary move.


Such storms are becoming more and more common. Somehow, those "100-year storms" seem to happen every year or two.


There is another reality that warrants attention.


As Starkville continues to grow -- as open ground is replaced with buildings, rooftops and concrete -- the stormwater code must reflect the consequences of that growth. Stormwater run-off is one of those consequences. Water has to go somewhere. Where it shouldn't go is into our streets, homes and businesses.


We applaud the city for taking a proactive approach to the issue and encourage citizens to attend the public hearing, gather information and ask questions.




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