The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will decide next week whether to issue $30 million in public bonds to build a levee to protect homes in the Huntington area.
The Huntington community has been grappling with flooding for decades, as a portion of the community was built within a filled-in flood plain because of lax environmental regulations that existed in the early 1960s. The problem has worsened in recent years, with new road construction and development.
About 160 homes were damaged in severe flooding from Cameron Run in 2006 and 2011, and 180 homes are considered to be within the flood plain and are at risk, according to a 2009 Army Corps of Engineers study.
The Corps estimated it would cost about $20 million to construct a levee and pump station — its recommended solution — but found the cost-benefit ratio was not sufficient to require the Corps to fund the construction.
Huntington residents are asking the county to instead step in to provide them with needed flood protection.
At a work session Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors discussed placing a $50 million bond referendum on this November’s ballot, $30 million of which would be set aside for Huntington’s levee and the remainder would be used for to-be-determined flood prevention projects around the county.
Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), whose district includes the Huntington community, supports the project.
“The Huntington community is going to be lost unless we do something,” Hyland said.
Other supervisors were more skeptical about the prospect of taking a pricey project that benefits only one community.
“There has to be a plan B. ... Bond referenda have failed,” said Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason).
Other supervisors said they want to make sure that, if they do end up issuing bonds, they are not precluded from using the money for other projects if other options for paying for the levee come through.
The county has sought funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation, whose road projects are thought to be partially to blame for the flooding issue.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) said the county should do more to entice a private developer to buy out and redevelop the community.
The board will vote on this issue and other potential bond referenda at its May 22 meeting.