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OTOC Environmental Action Team pleased, voters reject NRD bond to build more dams

May 7th, 2016

On Tuesday, May 10,  voters in the NRD’s six-county area rejected the proposed bond initiative to build 6 more dams. Thanks in part to the strategic work of OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability  Action Team, the ballot bid was supported by only a small margin in Douglas and Sarpy Counties and then rejected by nearly 2-1 in the district’s four rural counties.

Thank you for the support.   OTOC is pleased with the outcome and looks forward to working with the NRD to find more sustainable solutions to prevent flooding.

*********************Background********************************

The primary election had a Special Issues Ticket that involved authority for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District (NRD) to issue bonds to pay for a series of dams for the alleged purpose of flood control.  A vote in favor would have allowed the NRD to increase its tax levy to pay for the bonds.

The Environmental and Sustainability Committee recommended a vote AGAINST the bonds and tax.  According to the Omaha World-Herald the new dams and reservoirs would cost nearly $100 million.

OTOC Environmental Action Team Statement opposing NRD Bond Election

OTOC urged voters to consider the following:

Many Questions Need to be Answered before supporting bonds

  • There are many questions surrounding the practice of using the dams for flood control instead of other greenway designs to meet flood risk reduction targets.
  • The need for the dams is based on a 1997 study. A new, independent study is needed.
  •  A recent study by UNO research staff questions NRD’s assertion that a major rain event would cause major property damage in Papillion and Bellevue.  This research suggests that NRD’s damage claims are significantly exaggerated.
  • NRD has been criticized for not encouraging conservation practices such as rain gardens and retention ponds that could stop runoff from new developments and lessen the need for the dams.
  • Many believe that building new dams stimulates new housing and commercial developments on the lakes that are created. This contributes to urban sprawl and negative impacts on our environment.

Why are we voting on up to $100 million in bonds with so little discussion and education?

  • Questions have also been raised about why the vote is on a primary ballot when turnout will be much lower than in a general election.
  • OTOC believes there hasn’t been enough public discussion about the precise need for the dams and the accelerated time schedule for installing the dams that the NRD desires to undertake.
  • Four members of the NRD board have come out against the need for the bonds at this time.
  • OTOC believes there must be more public discussion about less costly alternatives and more environmentally sound options before any new dams are built.

When you see the special issues ticket on your primary ballot, OTOC’s Environmental and Sustainability Committee recommends a vote NO–AGAINST the bonds and taxes that would be approved for the Papio-Missouri River NRD.

For a copy of this statement, click on the link below:

OTOC Environmental Action Team Statement opposing NRD Bond Election

Four Letters to Editor explaining opposition or support for Bonds

Final NRD POSTER

 

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