The flooding in Barberton, triggered by heavy rain over the weekend, provides the latest example of why Summit County needs a comprehensive and coordinated approach to stormwater. Many communities, households and businesses have experienced such disruption, damage and expense over the years. Local governments have responded. Yet they have done so on their own for the most part. That has not come close to addressing adequately the problem.

A better strategy is needed to relieve those in vulnerable areas from the misery now afflicting many in Barberton.

On Monday, County Council members will continue weighing a promising idea from the most recent Charter Review Commission. It has called for a charter amendment to create a county Storm Water Management Commission. The eight-member commission, involving the county executive, engineer, council president and representatives of cities, villages and townships, would become the vehicle for achieving what has proved elusive -- a coherent and effective response to chronic flooding.

The council would do well to advance the proposal to the ballot, giving voters their say.

Why not establish the commission through an ordinance, as some council members and other county officials prefer? It is a logical step. The concern is that it has been tried. As Jeffrey Snell, an attorney from Sagamore Hills, charter review commission member and a leading advocate for the proposed amendment, points out, the county acted 23 years ago in the wake of a study, “Reinventing Storm Water Management in Summit County.” The County Council required officials to report every six months on their progress putting together an overall plan.

Imagine the trouble that would have been avoided if county leaders had followed up. Unfortunately, little "reinventing" happened, those reports failing to materialize. Thus, Snell and other proponents see the charter route as arriving at the clout necessary to deliver. If voters approve the measure, the challenge will not be as easy, politically, to put aside.

The empty response goes to the difficulty in getting communities to coalesce around a single plan, even as the flow of water reminds repeatedly that it knows no boundaries. The county engineer has put together a voluntary plan for improved stormwater management. The past two years, just Bath Township has signed up, and it did so largely to stay clear of the requirements involved in a larger conservancy district.

The county prosecutor’s office cautions that the county does not have the authority to set fees for municipalities, posing an obstacle to generating funding for planning and projects. Yet that challenge hardly is insurmountable. For instance, Lake County has made arrangements with communities in developing its coordinated and successful plan. Other areas have taken similar steps. It can be done here, where many communities already have set their own fees.

The reality is that each community can do just so much when the source of the trouble sits in the community next door or the next one over. Something comprehensive is required. Again, that could come in the form of an ordinance. At the same time, it is fair to ask: How many years will pass with more episodes like the flooding in Barberton, its affected residents deserving the equivalent of disaster relief?

An amendment creating a Storm Water Management Commission wouldn’t clutter the charter. Given the extent and persistence of the problem, such a commission is fitting. After all, the thinking behind the charter is about giving the county more tools to take up challenges for the short term and the long term. So let voters add their voice, with the thought that approval of the proposed charter amendment will translate to sustained attention and real action.