Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Protecting Wetlands to Protect from Climate Change

Our local government just announced that it has won a great victory by at last obtaining the necessary Federal permit to destroy about five acres of wetlands at Potomac Yard adjoining the George Washington Parkway and containing tidal wetlands. These wetlands also contain about 270 mature trees and some rare native plants which grow only in wetland habitats. There was another option for locating the Potomac Yard Metro, outside the wetland. It would not have required a permit and so could have already been built.

There was a public hearing on the state permit last July. shortly after a major flood event on July 8. Many of those who spoke at the state hearing mentioned the flooding in their neighborhoods. Rosemont where I live had some flooded basements for the first time I can remember since 2008. Parking garages in Old Town were flooded. The city spent about $500,000 on damages according to the city manager. It also offered low cost flood insurance to homeowners to repair damages.

But the most ominous feature of the flood event which occurred on a weekday was that it caused major flooding on the George Washington Parkway. There was serious damage to flooded cars and people had to be rescued from them. No one drowned. We have had subsequent flooding on the Parkway, none as extreme.

As all environmentalists know, wetlands function as catch basins to hold excess water. Higher ground does not. All our flooding events are clearly related to freakish rain storms while the large catch basin of the Potomac Yard wetland was still available as a mitigating factor. After it is destroyed there will surely be more extreme weather and more flooding. Unless the city changes its policy soon and truly recognizes global warming as a threat, things can only get worse.

Katy Cannady,

Alexandria

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