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Temporary but still worth it

These days, $2.2 million just doesn’t stretch that far.

That’s how much Belleville will spend on a water storage tank and some pumps – a “temporary” solution to the east end flooding that occurs after a really hard rain. A permanent solution would involve replacing all the underground sewer mains and lines to individual homes. We wouldn’t even try to guess what that would cost.

Twenty or 30 years ago, the federal or state government probably would have chipped in to help Belleville cover this cost. But in this age of staggering deficits and shrinking budgets, the help is limited to a low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The city will be paying for this temporary fix for the next 20 years.

The city isn’t required to install the storage tank; the IEPA hasn’t mandated it. Still, this is an appropriate use of public dollars. The residents with soggy basements definitely think so.

Randy Smith, assistant director of the city’s wastewater division, said this temporary fix gives the city 20 years to put in place a permanent solution. Unless George Jetson or Luke Skywalker comes up with a permanent solution, it’s more likely that in 2035 the city will still be using this temporary fix. Implementing – and funding – a permanent solution likely will be a job left for a whole different set of elected officials.