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Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Fremont County levee trustees working to upgrade from “Unacceptable” status

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  • Colonel Joel R. Cross of the Corps of Engineers District Commander has now sent two letters regarding the status of certain levees in and around Fremont County. 
    The first letter, received July 8, announced that the L-594-575 Flood Risk Reduction Project (FFRP) was given an Overall System Rating of “Unacceptable,” and subsequently an additional letter was received July 21 that announced the same about the L-594-601 FFRP.
    The first designation included levees in the Benton Washington Segment, the Pleasant Valley Segment, and the Waubonsie DD Segment LB, all in Fremont County.  
    These levees could be described as the levee(s) along the Missouri River from Plum Creek to Waubonsie Creek, including two tie-backs up those creeks.  
    The second designation included levees in the Waubonsie DD Segment RB, the Watkins DD Segment, the Miller-Sturgeon Segment, and the Bartlett Segment. These levees are located in Fremont and Mills counties.
    Both letters state briefly that “Maintenance deficiencies identified in the inspection may prevent the FFRP from performing as designed and present an increased risk to the public.”
    Ken Howery, official of the Pleasant Valley and Waubonsie Drainage Districts said that a meeting was held with the Army Corps of Engineers at their offices in Omaha on July 23 to get clarification on what the districts needed to do to get back into acceptable status.
    “We need to pump relief wells, and we’re in the process of getting the equipment to get it done," Howery said. "We’ll have to buy that equipment, though, and we don’t know what that will cost.”
    Howery further stated that they really needed to hire someone to pump out the wells full-time at least during the summer, but he didn’t know when or how that could happen.
    According to Benton Washington Drainage District official Pat Sheldon, videotaping will be required inside floodgate structures and pump testing of relief wells. All images will be turned in for review.
    In the meantime, he said that the involved districts will send a letter of intent to the Corps stating that they will be getting the work done, so that they can be on active status again.
    When asked why he felt these things hadn’t already been done, Sheldon said, “over the last three years since the flood, major repairs to the levees have taken precedence over everything.”  On the plus side, he added, “ I have great confidence in our levees now, though, they are better now than when they were first built in 1948.”  He said money and time had held them up, but the issues would be straightened out.
    Fremont County Emergency Management Director Mike Crecelius advised that another meeting would held soon with Army Corps of Engineers representatives, Supervisors, and Levee Sponsors to make sure everyone was on the same page and everything got accomplished that needed to be.
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