Protect people from FIRMA

As a Parkersburg resident, I am deeply concerned about the purposed 30 percent sewer rate increase for Parkersburg Utility Board users. My primary question is whether this is an Environmental Protection Agency dictate to add $12.7 million to the $80 million recent upgrade to our sanitary sewer system. The most recent upgrade was to prevent overflows into rivers after heavy rains.

If an enormous storage reservoir is not created for this purpose, the only alternative is the installation and pinching of a large number of strategically placed discharge valves; this method would cause the excess water to back up into basements, yards, streets, and other low places throughout Parkersburg and neighboring areas.

Is this an effort by the EPA to redraw the floodplain map to include additional areas? If so, then thousands of additional homes and businesses would be included in the “2012 Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act (FIRMA).” The newly-included homes and businesses would become either uninsurable or relegated to paying exorbitant insurance premiums. The reclassification and inclusion of additional property into an expanded floodplain would put a heavy burden on thousands of West Virginians in the form of atrociously high flood insurance premiums.

Sen. Manchin thoroughly explained his proposed legislation “Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act” in the Jan. 14, 2014, issue of your paper as to how his bill would protect property owners in West Virginia from the extreme over-regulation of FIRMA. However, based on West Virginia’s experience with the EPA, the outcome probably would not bode well for us. Those of us now in the soon-to-be-created elevated floodplains might as well start packing our bags.

David F. Finch