Sunday, July 13, 2008

Boatload of Federal Cash to Clean Up the Ogden River?

New federal appropriations bill could yield Ogden $6.5 million

This morning's Standard-Examiner announces that the City of Ogden may well become the beneficiary of a boatload of federal cash to clean up the Ogden River. We incorporate below the lead paragraphs of this morning's Scott Schwebke story, which provide the gist:
OGDEN — Millions of dollars in federal funding may flow to the city to clean up the Ogden River.
A Senate committee has approved a federal appropriations bill that seeks funding for restoration of the entire five-mile stretch of the river that passes through the city.
The project could cost as much as $10 million, Jason Carey an engineer with RiverRestoration.org based in Glenwood Springs, Colo., estimated.
The federal government could contribute up to $6.5 million for the project and local funding sources would likely provide $3.5 million in cash, land or materials, he said.
At the city’s request, U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, succeeded in adding language to the 2009 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill that makes the river restoration project a priority, said his spokeswoman, Tara Hendershott.
The bill has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.
Now we know that some of our fiscally conservative readers are bound to complain that this prospective financial windfall is just another example of Senator Bennett's propensity for pork-barrel politics; but please remember this:

"Appropriations such as these are only considered pork when they go to the other 49 states. Monies coming to Ogden are always well deserved!"

Reading between the lines, we suppose Ogden's high-priced Washington lobbyist probably had a hand in this too, so perhaps that 100 grand we pay him each year is well spent.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

7 comments:

Gadi said...

I'm laughing my a** off!

America is one great country!

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

Potentially very good news. Potentially. But if you read Mr. Schwebke's story carefully... especially the comments of Sen. Bennet's spokesperson --- it's not quite time for celebration yet. The money has not been specifically allocated to the Ogden River Project, she says. It's up to the Corps of Engineers [overseeing the project] to decide how to allocate the funds it gets among a great backlog of projects it has awaiting money. As a Corps representative told Mr. Schwebke, "the magic bullet is the funding appropriation that goes with the authorization." Time for cautious optimism, certainly, but not quite time for celebration yet.

I haven't seen much in the press here since I arrived a little over six years ago about the Corps of Engineers. Living in Louisiana as I did for three decades, the Corps was in the papers more or less weekly. And, often, not in ways that inspired confidence. The Corps, recall, was in the business of certifying the safety of the levee system in Louisiana, and of maintaining a good part of it and the south Louisiana flood control system [particularly the Atchafalaya Spillway and Bonnet Carre Spillway, both protecting NO. ]

Folks who live in the Southeast have other reasons to be a little cautious about the Corps of Engineers being named to oversee the Ogden River project. For many decades in the Southeast, the Corps saw it as its mission to redesign rivers as God would have designed them originally, if only God had all the facts and knew what the Corps new. Frequently their idea of river improvement involved what they called "channelization," which meant taking all the oxbows and bends out of a river, and making it run dead straight "to improve runoff and flows." This turned rivers into drainage ditches, and in many cases the consequences were disastrous. So disastrous that about fifteen years or so ago, the Corps began spending many more millions to try to put the bends and curves back into rivers they had spend millions taking those bends and curves out of, trying now to slow runoff [and reduce flooding]. The quintessential example of this kind of Corps-managed disaster was the Cross Florida Canal and St. John's River Project.

I hope the Corps out here has a little more respect for the forces of nature and a little less arrogance with respect to same. A clean Ogden River with an improved and preserved natural river corridor would be a real benefit to the city, without question. [Ask anyone of the many volunteers who take part in the annual river cleanups what comes out of that river year after year. My favorite this year was used disposable diapers, which I pulled out of the river near the Washington Ave bridge.] So I'm optimistic. But if the Corps is to be involved, it's a cautious optimism, born of experience with what the Corps' idea of "improvement" was in another region in another day.

Curmudgeon said...

Comment promoted to new article

dan s. said...

First of all, as. Curm says, it's too early to be counting chickens.

Second, I think the Corps has learned some things since the channelization days. The Ogden River has also been channeled, and the goal here would be to undo some of that--if possible.

Third, keep in mind that one of the city's goals here is to promote more recreational use of the river--especially "high adventure" kayaking. But that may not be very feasible due to low bridges and often low flows coming out of Pineview.

The solution to the used diapers and other trash isn't federal money--it's more volunteer cleanup projects, more law enforcement, and cleaning up some of the adjoining private property.

danny said...

So Gadi buys a bunch of slums through Ogden City forced sales at discount prices, claiming he will clean them all up, then the US government cleans it all up yielding a vast windfall for Gadi's appreciated property.

So many people pull this crap it's a wonder everyone doesn't do it.

Senator Bennett, Gadi's office just called. Your check is ready.

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

The clean up/redesign of the stretch of river running through the River Development Area was already on the books. Remember the big Kennedy speech public event of some months ago. The news today is that fedfunds may be allocated to work on the rest of the river, outside the Gadi Development area, from the mouth of Ogden Canyon at one end to the Ogden River's confluence with the Weber at the other.

dan s. said...

Curm,

I think you're wrong about the timing. Gadi's purchase of property along the river has been in the works for well over two years. We didn't start hearing about any restoration plans for the river itself until late last fall.

To be fair to Gadi, he's promising to put up the matching funds to cover the portion of the river bordering his property. On the other hand, there are some parcels he wants that he hasn't yet been able to acquire, and I get the sense that he's trying to build political support for whatever heavy-handed means he plans to use to acquire them.

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