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Letter to the editor: River plan must improve water quality

Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 12:01 am

Save Maumee has simply one thing to say about the Fort Wayne River Development plan and creating access points along our local rivers: If it does not improve water quality, or adds more impervious surfaces to further strain our already full storm sewers with run-off, it should not be considered.

We understand that improving water quality continues to be the biggest challenge for Fort Wayne’s rivers, as it always has been. River development “is an opportunity that all cities across the county wish they had,” says President Kinder Baumgardner of SWA, the firm contracted to study the rivers at a cost of $500,000. Legacy funding should generate solid, achievable water quality improvement suggestions within the study.

Our members agree: Development will be an asset to our rivers, one that will bring commerce and visitors into our great city by showcasing local riverfronts. Access points will bring more views and attention necessary to make people care more about local rivers. Natural filtration devices, such as trees and vegetation, have already been removed along most of the forested corridors next to waterways in Allen County. (Plan-It Allen)

Our city could be a model in riverfront development, one that would help to guide America in the evolution of construction on rivers. Water quality improvements could then be reproduced to add more value than ever anticipated. Fort Wayne could once again be admired as “the city that saved itself.”

A plan could alleviate runoff and surface water contaminants from Fort Wayne, all the way to Toledo, Ohio’s Lake Erie. This plan could not only reduce storm water entering the already full sewers, but could add more vegetation, slowing flood water and creating habitat for wildlife.

Fort Wayne does not want to merely showcase our focal point and make the rivers more viewable by removing more trees. We do not want development to have the “appearance” of improvement just so it is easier to look upon a river that continues to be deemed “impaired” by the federal government’s 303(d) list of rivers and streams that do not meet water quality standards in the United States.

Abigail King, vice chair, Save Maumee Grassroots Organization