The Washington Times-Herald

February 18, 2012

Lawsuit is the right move

Washington Times-Herald

WASHINGTON — We support the Daviess County Commissioners in their stand for local taxpayers with this week’s filing of a lawsuit for damages done to the Bennington Levee last spring.

Often when natural disaster occurs, only random chance can be blamed. If the eye of a hurricane shifts just a few miles or a tornado changes paths as it approaches a community, only prayer and the instinct of self-preservation can keep one safe.

However last spring, for the farms and the community west of Washington, the results may have seemed like a natural disaster, but is looking more like an engineering and construction mistake.

With almost $2.5 million due in repairs to the levee, we stand behind the county  commissioners seeking relief from the people and companies who allegedly caused the levee to be undermined.

We don’t believe that maliciousness or skullduggery was involved when the one-mile ditch was excavated in the winter of 2010-2011, and it will be up to a judge to determine whether or not the dredging near the levee was the primary reason the levee failed. We do know that a flood plain permit was not requested, nor was an engineering study done.

So if the ditch excavation caused damage to the 18-mile long levee, then those involved with that project need to compensate the county for the cost of the repairs. When the levee breached in 2008, the county was lucky enough to get financial help from the Natural Resource Conservation Service. It’s looking like that won’t be an option this time.

We are not looking “for a pound of flesh” simply for the sake of being punitive, just that those who are responsible need to step up and take financial responsibility — and we assume their liability insurance policies will kick in.

Thankfully, no lives were lost and personal property damage was kept to a minimum after the breach. But in today’s financially challenging times this is simply too big of a project to be absorbed by the flood plain taxpayers of Daviess County — especially if it is determined that it was avoidable incident.