Submitted to press:
The Barlow Flood
The many Sebastopol citizens who opposed The Barlow plan to build wineries, breweries, bakeries, markets and restaurants on the Laguna flood plain knew that Mr. Aldrich’s empty promises (“flood-proofing” doors and walls?) would eventually be tested. Now they have been tested and they failed, as predicted.
The Barlow imposed an impermeable mass upon Zimpher Creek, which descends steeply from neighborhoods west of Main Street. Pleas that the City would make Aldrich daylight the creek through The Barlow’s footprint were ignored. Zimpher’s blocked drainage undoubtedly added to the flood levels, as predicted.
Under developer pressure, proponents forgot that official Laguna flood level predictions ignore the impact of Russian River flooding, especially during high tides, as is happening now. Most don’t know that “100-year floodplain” means “likely to flood in 1 out of 100 storms”—so if every year we get 4 storms it could become a “25-year floodplain.”
Today everyone can see that the Barlow site, directly adjacent to the Laguna, actually IS a flood zone! Business owners who wonder why pumps weren’t used to protect a site AT flood level, IN an overflowing flood zone must answer “Where would the water go?”
Time to wake up: this can and will happen again and again.
Jane Nielson and Nan Waters
Sebastopol Water Information Group