Briggs King speaks out on stormwater management
In response to a recent opinion which questioned the position of members of the General Assembly on the issue of water control, I wish to respond and correct several misperceptions. I have been very consistent in my position on the issue of stormwater management as it applies to our state and county. Sussex County is one of the largest counties in land area - not only in Delaware but also east of the Mississippi River. We also boast a significant and important coastline and inland waterways system. Unfortunately, Sussex County is also the only county in our state which does not have a comprehensive stormwater management plan or program in place.
The county has failed to enact solutions to concerns raised by members of the General Assembly and other state agencies charged with addressing the stormwater management issues. Current proposed regulations for stormwater management will become effective this month but will not improve - let alone “fix” the current problems of flooding and poor drainage in many areas of the county.
Residents of affected areas have made their concerns known to their elected officials. Unfortunately, the problems many now complain of are the direct result of construction requirements imposed upon developers by state regulations. One thing is clear: either the science behind the new regulations (or the regulations themselves) is flawed or something needs to be done promptly. If we simply forge ahead with “new” regulations, all we will do is create a new layer of regulatory oversight which does very little to address the actual issue of improved stormwater management.
Unfortunately, the governmental regulatory process is always years in the making, proceeding at a glacial pace in many cases. Most of the current Sussex County legislators were elected after 2005. Hearings on the current regulations occurred in 2012-13, with the draft regulations modified during the process. A final draft of regulations was circulated after the fact, purportedly giving members of the General Assembly and the public time to read, review and react. I know for a fact that many members of the General Assembly have made their concerns known directly to the secretary and other agencies, only to have those comments ignored. All we have left to do is appeal the final decision on these regulations by the secretary - again, after the fact. The moratorium requested is related to implementation of these regulations and is intended to permit all of the interested parties time to complete the studies and work already in progress (one such study includes the comprehensive examination of the Oak Orchard and Long Neck areas.
Further study is needed to determine the effectiveness of similar regulations in counties having virtually identical stormwater management plans.
I will continue to represent and advocate for my constituents and to ensure their voices, their needs and their concerns are heeded - and understood - at all levels of state government. We need to proceed cautiously rather than recklessly. Reckless regulation always carries with it the problem of unintended consequences - which cause us to spend time correcting the problems the regulations create rather than address the true, underlying problems.
I understand Ms. Cabry’s comments recently published in a statewide publication. Unfortunately, those comments - like many of the regulations being bantered about now - aren’t quite correct. Despite such commentary, rest assured the Sussex County members of the General Assembly will continue to work together for the betterment of our environment and the protection of our citizenry.
Ruth Briggs King