Originally created 09/19/00

Panel finds cracks in flood plan



After an investigation into the city's flood control and flood prevention ordinances, an Augusta grand jury called on local officials to review regulations surrounding development in flood-prone areas.

A grand jury subcommittee - in a presentment issued Friday - identified several "apparent weaknesses" to local flood control measures and made recommendations on improving the city's building ordinances.

Mayor Bob Young said he will address the grand jury report during today's commission meeting.

Grand jurors wrote that the county's flood damage prevention ordinance "noticeably does not include the cutting of timber or the effects of such on the ground absorption of water, restriction of water flow, drainage or erosion."

On Aug. 22, after he already had spoken with a grand juror, Planning Commission Executive Director George Patty recommended to the Engineering Services Committee of the Augusta Commission that the clearing of trees from the flood plain be prohibited.

"(A grand juror) came over and talked to us; he talked about cutting trees and some things he had seen in one of the ordinances from somewhere else," Mr. Patty said. "It seemed like a great idea."

After interviewing officials in the Department of Public Works and Engineering, grand jurors also recommended implementing a routine schedule for maintenance work at drainage facilities.

"Public works' major problem seems to be the maintenance of storm drains and detention ponds as well as creek and/or river beds to reduce or prevent flooding."

Other weaknesses identified by the jurors included a lack of consideration for topography when determining the boundaries of the lower and upper fringes of the floodway. The lower fringe has more stringent building codes.

The presentment said: "This committee would recommend a follow-up review .ƒ.ƒ. as well as periodic internal review by city-county officials to assure the welfare of the public constituency."

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.