How it gets paid for (and by whom) perhaps is a question for another day, but the three candidates in the July 7 Arlington County Board special election voiced support for increased stormwater-management efforts.
“We need to be making a generational investment,” said Susan Cunningham, one of three candidates on the ballot seeking to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall.
Cunningham, an independent, was joined by Republican Bob Cambridge and Democrat Takis Karantonis during a recent 90-minute online candidate forum sponsored by EcoAction Arlington and partner organizations.
Arlington’s aging stormwater infrastructure was put to the test – and did not fare well – during a brief but walloping rainstorm last July. Over the past year, county-government officials have been working to determine how to address the situation and how to pay for improvements.
Cambridge said a (perhaps the) only silver lining of the 2019 deluge was that the flooding that resulted “at least told us where the water’s going to go and where the problems are.” He urged county officials to “use that insight to attack the problem.”
Karantonis said addressing the large amount of impervious surfaces in Arlington is key, since those surfaces force the water into sewers and can overwhelm the system.
It is “a huge problem and deserves our attention,” Karantonis said.
County Manager Mark Schwartz recently proposed a $50 million bond referendum in November to start tackling stormwater issues, but given that much of the county’s infrastructure is approaching the 100-year mark, that may be just a down payment on a much larger bill.
At the forum, candidates were asked about a host of issues, including how the county government should encourage, or mandate, developers to create more energy-efficient buildings. Specifics were hard to come by, but in what has become a hallmark of the campaign, generalities were in abundance.
Cunningham said the current County Board has “given a rubber-stamp” to recent development. Karantonis said there should be incentives offered for efficient development and that “every single site plan that comes to the County Board has to be scrutinized.”
Cambridge said the county government’s Community Energy Plan has fallen out of date and needs to be revised constantly as situations evolve.
“Try to make it better,” he said. “Don’t try to make it perfect – make it better.”
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