Councilman's letter irks some

February 27, 2008 5:27:53 PM PST
As we near the end of a fairly wet February, the level at Falls Lake is creeping up ever so slightly.

But that said, there's no end in sight to the drought. At least one Raleigh leader is putting his thoughts out there for all to read.

City council member Rodger Koopman wrote a letter-to-the-editor that appeared in today's News and Observer.

The councilman is highly critical of the city's response to the drought so far, calling it "irresponsible" in his letter.

He says not nearly enough has been done, and wonders if the drought, like "New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina", is another example that waiting and hoping for "things to work out doesn't work."

He also draws parallels to the war in Iraq -- saying a "stay the course" approach to the drought won't work.

"Staying the course is exactly what we have been doing the last three or four years, and that's why we're here," Koopman says. "We have a real opportunity here, even though we're fast running out of time, to try to get ahead of this thing even though we're catching up because of the past again, not acting decisively enough."

Some of Koopman's colleagues take umbrage with his letter. Councilman Philip Isley calls it political grandstanding.

"I believe they're completely off-base. Katrina was an excess of water, not a dearth of water, which is our current situation," Isley says. "It's the politicization of the drought, and it's everybody's favorite stalking horse for some alterior motive."

Koopman is taking that criticism in stride. In fact, he's calling on his fellow council members to pass tougher conservation measures now. He wants a Stage 3 ordianance created and enacted as soon as possible.

That could include requiring paper plates and utensils at all restaurants.

And mandating the installation of low-flow devices at businesses.

"We have to react now, so that we set ourselves up that if this weather system is the way it is throughout the summer, that we have done everything we could in our power to conserve water," Koopman says.

On that note, Koopman and Isley appear to disagree as well.

"It's not something you snap your fingers and go to Stage 3 because you can. We need to go to Stage 3 if we should," says Isley.


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