USA: Army Corps Repairs Levees Along Missouri River
The Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a total of six contracts since January to repair seven levees that were damaged in the devastating Missouri River flood in 2011.
Approximately 30 contracts are expected to be awarded in the district’s efforts to respond to 55 requests for assistance from levee sponsors in the lower Missouri River Basin who participate in the Corps’ PL 84-99 program. The district expects the total amount of levee repairs in the lower basin to reach approximately $45 million.
“Post-flood rehabilitation is the district’s top priority, and we remain committed to repairing the system,” said Col. Anthony Hofmann, commander of the Kansas City District of the Corps of Engineers. “Our highest priority is to fix the levees that were breached—a total of 13 in all. Our goal is to have the breaches closed prior to May 1.”
The May 1 deadline is dependent on a variety of factors including weather and the involvement of levee sponsors, and may not happen for all projects. Levee sponsors are responsible for two key activities. They must provide all of the real estate necessary to complete a rehabilitation project to include temporary easements to obtain “right of entry” to construct repairs. They are also responsible for providing 20 percent of the cost of construction and supervision and administration. They can provide this by way of cash, work-in-kind, or a combination of both.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spends about $110 million annually from its Operations and Maintenance appropriation across all business lines to maintain existing flood control features/infrastructure along the Missouri River. Over the past six years, the Corps has invested more than $2 billion for Civil Works in the Missouri River Basin. About 80 percent of this is directly associated with flood control. Only 20 percent is for the Missouri River Recovery Program, which allows the Corps to meet its legal requirement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2003 Biological Opinion.
“The three primary mission areas of the Corps’ Civil Works Program are commercial navigation, flood risk management, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. These don’t compete against each other—they actually work together. The MRRP enables the Corps to meet the nation’s laws while continuing to meet all eight authorized purposes of the Missouri River system,” said Col. Hofmann. “Not doing so would bring substantial uncertainty to all interests in the Missouri River Basin over the long term.”
At this time, The Corps of Engineers does not see a high risk of flooding in the Missouri River Basin through early spring; however, they are already preparing for the potential for flood fighting in 2012—something that is done every year.
The Kansas City District’s current inventory includes approximately 3.1 million sandbags, 33 pumps and six sandbag machines. They have already met with Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, the Missouri National Guard, county emergency managers, the National Weather Service and Missouri Department of Transportation to discuss flood preparations for 2012.
“We are aggressively monitoring river levels, and should high water threaten any vulnerable locations, we will respond accordingly,” said Col. Hofmann.
Dredging Today Staff, February 27, 2012; Image: usace