USA: Corps Finalizes Freeport’s Periodic Inspection Findings
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District completed its review of the 2012 periodic inspection of the Freeport and Vicinity Hurricane Flood Protection Project, which concluded in an overall rating of unacceptable.
The local sponsor, Velasco Drainage District, will host a public meeting June 13 at 6 p.m. at the Lake Jackson Civic Center, 333 Highway 332 East Lake Jackson, TX 77566, to discuss these findings. A representative from the USACE Galveston District will be in attendance.
According to Levee Safety Program Manager Scott Leimer, USACE Galveston District, the levee received an unacceptable rating due to a combination of factors which included the evaluation of new data on levee system’s expected performance, a re-evaluation of existing data using current guidelines and the presence of abandoned infrastructure within the system.
“The periodic inspection was conducted by a multidisciplinary team that included the levee sponsor and was led by a professional engineer,” said Leimer. “The district typically conducts these inspections every five years on federally authorized levees in the district’s Levee Safety Program.”
Once the levee system was inspected, a final inspection rating for operation and maintenance was granted based on the levee inspection checklist, which included 125 specific items dealing with operation and maintenance of levee embankments, floodwalls, interior drainage, pump stations and channels.
“There was one of three ratings that could have been granted – acceptable, minimally acceptable or unacceptable,” said Leimer. “Levees rated unacceptable are not expected to perform to their full design capability and potentially pose a higher risk to the public during extreme flood events.”
Leimer stated that in order for the Velasco Drainage District to remain eligible for federal rehabilitation assistance through the USACE Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act Public Law 84-99), it must maintain the levee at the minimally acceptable standard.
“Public safety is our top priority,” said Chairman George Kidwell, Velasco Drainage District. “We are taking necessary corrective measures in order to fix deficiencies in our levee system to ensure we reduce flood risks to the public, comply with the district’s levee safety standards and remain in the USACE Rehabilitation and Inspection Program.”
The USACE uses inspection findings to rate the levee system to determine compliance with operation and maintenance requirements (including some measures of performance), understand the overall levee condition and determine eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance under PL 84-99. Currently, approximately 10 percent of USACE levee systems are acceptable, while about 80 percent are minimally acceptable and 10 percent are unacceptable.
“Levees reduce the risk of flooding but no levee system can eliminate all flood risk,” said Leimer. “There is always a chance that a flood will exceed the capacity of a levee, no matter how well built. Levees can work to provide critical time for local emergency management officials to safely evacuate residents during flooding events however, the possibility exists that levees can be overtopped or breached by large floods and in some instances fail even when a flood is small.”
Press Release, June 11, 2013