Letter: Village Ignoring Its Drainage Responsibilities

Not long ago, the Wellington Village Council stopped the canal clearance of vegetation for political considerations — an election was nigh. Yet by their own statistics, only 8 of 88 miles of canal banks were cleared, and the work abruptly halted by our council.

Even a child would note our canal system is for drainage and to prevent flooding and property damage, so why does our council do nothing about their serious responsibility?

The canal banks belong to the village, meant for vehicle access for cleaning the canals, but also to keep trees and foliage from falling into the canals and clogging them up in the event of a couple of good torrential rain storms or hurricanes. There is also the important but less known issue of water pipes and sewage that could be undermined and even broken by some of the heavy trees in those village canal areas, planted in by homeowners, without permission or right. This is akin to planting on your neighbors property and then telling them they can’t remove your handiwork!

A dozen years ago, the canals were so full of vegetation that the village hired a company to clean out the system, and the company was quoted as calling it “the worst maintained system” they had ever seen.

So here we are again, nary a public notice with our water bills or anywhere advising canal bank properties to stop planting in areas prohibited to them.

Now the village starts a cleaning process, a necessary one, but a hundred or so poor souls who live on the canal banks don’t want their plants removed from the village rights of ways and easements, and the council stops the process because there’s an election coming up.

I called one newly elected official to discuss, or at least point out this public safety issue last week, but after being told, “I’ll call you back in half an hour,” now some 80 hours later, I assume no call is forthcoming.

Well, we have three lawyers on our council (reminds me of Congress), so I’m hoping that one of them just might recall Liability 101, whereas the work was started, stopped and the liability danger is in the millions, possibly tens of millions, with flooding of houses, broken culverts/roadways, possible broken sewage lines and water lines by falling heavy trees — doesn’t anyone see a potential for disaster? Imagine watering your lawn from a compromised sewage line, watering from a compromised canal — and your kids play on the grass? No one can plead ignorance — the work was stopped by the council!

No studies or new machinery, deliberations or consultants will change the plight, or the responsibility, nor will ignoring it.

Recent village remarks… appear to be evidence in any lawsuit due to malfeasance and neglect damage in the future…

Our council kicked this can down the road, fingers crossed, and I presume they presumed no foul will occur, but that’s not their job.

Safety, and protection of life and property, is foremost here, but long forgotten, whilst photo ops are never missed.

George Unger, Wellington