Hoping to take advantage of the federal attention now trained on the region, Lucas County commissioner candidate George Sarantou yesterday called for a comprehensive study of regional storm water drainage issues and suggested it be paid for with the help of federal money.
Calling the aftermath of recent storms "historic levels of flooding," Mr. Sarantou said that each jurisdiction in the county must get involved in determining the specific causes of why certain areas flood. He added that the same people must determine what can be done to prevent flooding.
"I'm calling for a study that hasn't been current ... I think you'll need federal money to do that," he said during an afternoon news conference. "I think since we have the attention of the federal government, now's the time. We can't keep taking a Band-Aid approach."
The Republican candidate and current Toledo city councilman said he has been in touch with the office of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) about his plan to pursue a regional study.
He said preliminary numbers put the cost of a study at between $200,000 and $300,000.
Mr. Sarantou said that without current data - Toledo's storm drainage information dates to 2003, he said - the region cannot prevent flooding. He added that because flooding occurred throughout the county, a study cannot solely be focused on Toledo.
Democratic candidate Ben Konop said Mr. Sarantou's call for a study should have come prior to the recent flooding. He suggested that residents likely are tired of more studies and would rather have action.
He added that using the disaster as a political issue is "inappropriate and not respectful."
"I think that my opponent has had five years sitting on city council to address these issues proactively and has failed to do so," Mr. Konop said. "Really, his inaction on council is the problem."
Mr. Sarantou pointed out that the recent storms and the resulting floods brought to his attention that there is not a comprehensive analysis of storm water issues countywide.
He added that while Toledo has the bulk of flooding, other communities, such as Oregon, Spencer Township, and Springfield Township, also were affected.
He then asked that Miss Kaptur and Ohio's Republican senators, Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, help secure federal money for the study.
Miss Kaptur has long supported regional planning, said staff director Steve Katich. In May, 2005, she announced $4.9 million in federal funding for a tri-state study of the Maumee River watershed.
Miss Kaptur's office also announced yesterday efforts to broaden the disaster designation to include damage sustained not only during the June 21 storm but the subsequent July storms.
She said that broadening the storm declaration could mean the federal government would reimburse local governments for the expense of responding to the storms.
Contact Erica Blake at: