Recent high water events in the Huntington District have served to highlight an important, but often overlooked team that inspects the levees and flood walls of our region as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program.
Levee systems are a significant part of our district's landscape and are important to our local communities because of the benefits they provide. Public and private property worth millions dollars are behind these levees and more importantly, thousands of people live behind these structures.
Within the Huntington District, there are 28 levee systems that fall within the purview of the Levee Safety Program and 12 within the Dam Safety Program. These levee systems could include many different operational components, such as floodwalls, earthen embankments, pump stations for interior drainage, traffic and pipe closures, and seepage interception and control features.
"Levee conditions, storm/flood intensity and frequency, and populations around these levees change," said Kevin Butler, Levee Safety Program Manager. "So, the USACE Levee Safety Program works with local levee sponsors and stakeholders to make sure these levees provide their intended benefits," he added.
Our partners play an important role in levee safety because we all must work together, sharing responsibility, to solve and manage flood risk management challenges. Ultimately, individuals who know what to do before a flood or storm happens can make our communities safer places to live and work.
According to Butler a "good" levee sponsor is committed to flood risk reduction by: participating in USACE activities such as risk assessments, inspections, and regional levee safety meetings to understand the risks associated with their system; demonstrating a desire and willingness to address known project deficiencies; and communicating the risks associated with their levee system to the residents and business owners of their respective communities.
"Anywhere that it can rain, it can flood, and we know flooding is the number one natural disaster in the U.S., with thousands of miles of levees across the country providing flood risk reduction for millions of people," said Butler. Through collaboration amongst local, state, and federal agencies, the National Levee Safety Program helps to reduce flood risks posed to life, property, and the environment.
The tremendous value that the Levee Safety Team brings to bear is more readily apparent when conducting surveillance during high water events. Without these critical pieces of infrastructure lives and property would be a great risk. The Levee Safety Team works with local authorities to ensure that proper maintenance and inspections are done so that when high water events occur, they can function properly.
For more information regarding the USACE Levee Safety Program: