DeLaney Legislation Threatens Floodwall Project

Author: Jim Polito

An update on some consequential news affecting midtown Indianapolis and the levee and floodwall project …

The Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (“Project”) is a 20-year, 3-mile levee and floodwall project designed to provide flood risk management for the communities of Broad Ripple, Warfleigh, South Warfleigh and North Butler-Tarkington.  Remaining construction tasks are fully funded and shovel ready with federal sources providing 75% of project funds.

Completing the Project provides extensive benefit:

–  A recent engineering study shows over five feet of floodwater would surround a representative flood plain home in the event of a significant flood event.

– Recent legislation (“Biggert-Waters Act”) and changes in the national federal flood insurance program cause annual flood insurance premiums to rise to the range of $8,000 to $10,000 per year.

– Current levels of annual flood insurance premiums drain roughly $10 million dollars per year of purchasing power from the local economy (=2,750 structures x $3,600 annual premium = $9.9 million). This number will only increase over time.

– Current levels of annual flood insurance premiums depress area property values by roughly $173 million ($300/month premium = $63,000 mortgage (at 4%) x 2,750 structures). This number will only increase over time.

The Project enjoys widespread support throughout the community including city and federal officials; the approximately 5,000 to 6,000 women, children and men for whom the project will provide flood protection (2,500 – 3,000 business and homes); and over 1,000 signatories of an on-line petition urging expeditious project completion (see http://www.finishthefloodwall.org).

NEVERTHELESS, despite these obvious benefits, various individuals and organizations continue their efforts to oppose, delay and stop the Project entirely.

UNFORTUNATELY, Indianapolis State Representative Ed DeLaney (D-86) recently introduced legislation, HB1549 (see https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1549 ) that similarly could delay or stop the Project and/or impose considerable additional costs upon flood plain residents.

Specifically, DeLaney’s legislation could:

– Allow Washington Township to assert control over the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project and introduce indeterminable delay, and

– Impose upon Warfleigh and other flood plain residents tens of millions of dollars of additional costs (via a special flood plain assessment), when the project is already shovel ready and fully funded.

Representative DeLaney confirms these possible consequences of his bill. Specifically, Representative DeLaney responded as follows to my e-mail asking “could you please advise if I incorrectly interpret the possible consequences of your bill?”:

The timeline [under which Washington Township might assert control over the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project] is out of my control. I have no role on that. I am focused on giving our local officials options. Ed DeLaney.

Obviously, Representative DeLaney does have control over the harm his legislation could impose upon his constituents as he both introduced the proposed legislation and specifically included language (Section 27) that would allow a township to exert control over a project already in progress.

Representative Ed DeLaney should explain why he introduced legislation that knowingly could harm his constituents.  Representative DeLaney should explain why he introduced legislation that could delay the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project.  Representative DeLaney should explain why his bill is necessary now. Representative DeLaney should explain with whom he discussed his bill and upon whose guidance he relied when drafting the bill.

What you can do …

(1) Contact Representative Ed DeLaney by phone, email and through social media platforms.  Ask Representative DeLaney to answer the questions above. Remind Representative DeLaney 2018 midterm elections are not far away and that you will directly attribute to him any delay in the levee and floodwall project.

Telephone:
800-382-9842 (ask for his office)

E-mail:
ed@eddelaney.org
staff@eddelaney.org
http://indianahousedemocrats.org/contact-ed-delaney/

Twitter:
@eddelaney86
@delaneyforindy

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/delaneyforindy/

(2) Contact the Chair of the Indiana House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform.  Educate him on the benefits of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (see above). Tell him you oppose any legislation that imposes harm upon Indiana floodplain residents. Ask him to either (a) fail to act on the bill, or (b) amend the bill to exclude the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project.

Representative Kevin Mahan (R-31)

Telephone:  800-382-9841 (ask for his office)

E-mail:
h31@iga.in.gov
http://www.indianahouserepublicans.com/forms/contact-your-representative/?formField_Representative=Rep.%20Kevin%20Mahan%20%28HD%2031%29

(3) Contact your U.S. Congressional Representative (Susan Brooks) and City-Councilor Colleen Fanning. Remind them the hardship and burden we now experience results from both action and inaction at the local and federal level.  Ask them to intervene on your behalf.  Ask them to contact the Republican Chair of the Indiana House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform and educate him on the benefits of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project. Urge them to request he either: (a) fail to act on the bill, or (b) amend the bill to exclude the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project.

Congresswoman Susan Brooks (through District Director Karen Glaser): Karen.Glaser@mail.house.gov .

City-Councilor Colleen Fanning: fanningindy@gmail.com ; (317) 935-4776.

FINALLY, please remember, completing the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project now, while federal funds are available, in no way excludes future Rocky Ripple flood protection.  The City continues to work with Rocky Ripple to explore viable alternatives.  Additionally, recently proposed legislation (HB1440: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1440#document-fdac2a24 ) provides approximately $60 million in funding for future Rocky Ripple flood protection projects.