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Are higher walls the solution for Grand Rapids?

• Apr 26, 2016 at 5:00 PM

GRAND RAPIDS — The floodwalls of Grand Rapids are the barrier that keep the Grand River from flooding the city, and a local environmental group’s blog says putting them higher is not the long-term solution.

In a post for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Natasha Strydhorst lays out what the walls do and what could be done to improve them.

“For years, the floodwalls’ height has been a point of contention between the City of Grand Rapids and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” she wrote. “The city has long maintained that the walls were high enough, while FEMA pushed for 2 feet of vertical additions.”

But that 2 feet of additional wall height has been estimated to cost $9 million, and that estimate was made eight years ago.

“Other cities across the United States faced the same dilemma — build higher walls, investing money and materials in barring citizens from river access, or take the hit of increased insurance rates and risk of flood damage,” Strydhorst notes.

So, what is the answer? Read the full blog post: “Grand Rapids on flood mitigation: higher walls are not the solution.”

The opinions expressed by bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.

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