I have just finished reading the July 13 cover story, "In the Zone." It is the most factual and enlightening article that I have read in any newspaper in a very long time.

I am retired from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources where I served for more than 22 years as state coordinator for the National Flood Insurance Program. Over those years, I have read and even contributed to numerous articles about new flood maps, flood mitigation and the NFIP in general. My compliments to Kristi Dempsey for the research she did in preparing the article. The NFIP is both a complicated and changing program, and it takes contentious work to get the facts straight. Dempsey composed the most factual article I have ever read on the NFIP, including the new flood maps that are a result of FEMA's Map Modernization Program. The article will certainly educate old and new citizens alike about the flooding and drainage issues they will always face when too much rain impacts this beautiful part of Louisiana. Accurate reporting such as this is invaluable.

I was also pleased to see that Lafayette will be voting to decide on a new utility (fee) for the development of regional storm water drainage facilities to create new parks, develop retention basins, and meet current water quality standards under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, which is being implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

I certainly hope that the citizens of Lafayette Parish and the area carefully examine the benefits that will accrue for generations to come when they vote on the new utility. My experience with such facilities (and their associated utility fees) is from the Denver metro area where the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District has ably served the citizens of the seven-county area since 1968. The district has many times served as a national model for regional drainage initiatives where wise land-use decisions have improved the citizenry's quality of life and lessened the sometimes tragic effects of flooding.

As an aside, I always read The Independent when visiting relatives in Lafayette. This issue made my stay particularly enjoyable.

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