Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Henderson & Project GREEN Reach Agreement on Pittman Wash

I know it's been a while since we last talked about this, but a big development has finally reached the forefront. A deal has been made on the immediate future of Pittman Wash in Henderson.

The city of Henderson and a group of residents and environmentalists have come to an agreement over how to control erosion caused by storm runoff flowing through the Pittman Wash.

The agreed-upon solution will be more environmentally friendly than the original plan but will add about $800,000 to the initial $4.5 million price tag. [...]

The new plan calls for construction of an arch culvert, which will function similarly as the concrete channel but will be built into the wash’s north bank and covered with dirt, rocks and natural vegetation.

The arch culvert will allow for the wash to be returned closer to its original state, while still reducing erosion, city engineer Scott Fiedler said.

The culvert, however, will cost about $800,000 more and must be engineered and then approved by the Clark County Regional Flood Control District, which would fund the project. That could delay the start of construction by up to nine months.

“We think this option is beneficial to all concerned,” Fiedler said. “(But) this option would be more expensive to construct.”

So this is where we've landed. And while questions remain over how much immediate damage this construction will cause to Pittman Wash, this arch culvert so far looks to be far less damaging over the long term than either Henderson Public Works' original concretization plans or Project GREEN's articulated concrete block (ACB) alternative. And over time, the new plants will mature and the scenery will improve. And even more importantly, one of the last natural springs in the entire valley now has at least a fighting chance of survival.

Even with this compromise, there's no guarantee that a view like this will remain. Again, we'll have to see how extensive the construction is and how much of a footprint this culvert will ultimately have. And remember, Clark County Flood Control still has to give its final approval before the funds are allocated and the city begins construction.

But at least with this solution, the conversation is being moved toward conservation. As much of Pittman Wash has been preserved in its natural state over the years, Henderson residents have come to appreciate the natural beauty of the wash and the rare bit of respite it provides in what's otherwise the great concrete jungle that most of Clark County has become. And as the initial plans for concretizing the wash were slowly becoming public, residents spoke out as they realized what would happen if the wash were to be eaten up by that concrete jungle. Thanks to residents standing up and speaking out, Henderson has drawn a line in the sand on concretizing the wash (no pun intended?) and local environmental activists now have a stronger chance of getting Flood Control to remove any more concretization of Pittman Wash from the countywide master plan (which will soon need to be revised).

This has been a long and tough journey, but this is what progress looks like.

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