Costly ideas shouldn’t just be ignored

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A handful of local visionaries continue to look at the shallow, meandering bits of St. Catherine Creek and see a deep, free-flowing future.

For a number of years, local leaders have mulled the idea of placing small dams, or weirs, along the creek to raise the water level to allow more consistent recreational use of the creek.

The project would create a series of lakes along what is now the deep creek bed. Depending upon the time of the year, the current creek level can be only ankle deep in places, prohibiting most recreational use.

Proponents of the plan point to a number of benefits — beyond the obvious recreation aspects — including less erosion problems and improved residential and industrial development opportunities along the creek.

The estimated cost is approximately $55 million, which is a considerable amount of money.

At first glance considering spending that kind of money may seem silly, particularly in such tight economic times.

However, the federal government has already invested some $12.5 million into the current, shallow creek repairing erosion problems in the least two decades or so, through projects paid for by the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

NRCS funds the majority of the EWP project costs, but through the years, city and county sources have invested either direct contributions or in-kind matches to complete the funding. And in the end all we have is a repair

Our community should not shy away from the vision put forth in the St. Catherine Creek project, but embrace it for the amazing, community-changing potential the plan contains.