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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Water Project District: Rolly Samp's Case

[Part 1 of a series!]

I'm not sold yet on the idea of forming a water project district around Lake Madison and Brant Lake. So the toughest part of yesterday's public meeting in Chester to discuss forming such a district was Rolly Samp's pitch.

Rolly has been a summer denizen of Lake Madison all his life. His grandkids are the sixth generation of his family to get to enjoy his family property on the lake. And this July 4th, the lakeshore by that property was too green to swim or fish.

Rolly sees the proposed Interlakes Water Project as the best way to ensure that his grandkids and the following generations can continue to enjoy our lakes. Not just the best way—the only way. As Rolly explains it, a water project district would have the organization and status to be eligible for three million dollars of federal stimulus money. If the district can get going and apply by the October 1 deadline, it could grab that cash and fund 30 projects in the local watershed. Those projects would have an enormous long-term impact on water quality, says Rolly.

Without a formal district, there'll be no stimulus money, and those 30 projects won't happen for 30 years. Rolly says Lake Herman would turn to a cattail slough. The lake he has loved all his life will only decline further into a carpy, algae-covered mess.

And at the end of the meeting, he looks me in the eye and says I need to "get on board" with this project.

I know Rolly from my Prairie Village days. I met his son Mike at Boys State. Rolly's a good guy, a good lawyer (not mutually exclusive categories), and an avid fellow writer. And he makes a pretty good case in favor of forming a water project district here in Lake County. So I neither lightly nor eagerly look him back in the eye and say I disagree.

That's why I want to spend some time today working through what I heard at yesterday's informational meeting, the fourth and final such public meeting held by proponents of the Interlakes Water Project District. I'll write up the information presented by organizers Robert Todd and Martin Jarrett. I'll explore some of the questions and arguments raised by opponents of the district, as well as the responses offered by the organizers. And then I'll probably presume to offer suggestions to you lucky 709 eligible voters on Lakes Madison and Brant on how to vote this coming Saturday.

Rolly Samp says you and I need to get on board, for the sake of our grandkids (present and potential). Other people of good conscience say no, we don't. This is complicated... and worth thinking about.

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