The National Levee Safety Act of 2007 authorized the creation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program. The Program mission is to assess the integrity and viability of levees and recommend actions to assure that levee systems do not present unacceptable risks to the public, property, and the environment. The Corps subsequently launched a major effort to establish a levee safety organization, create the National Levee Database, develop a methodology for performing technical risk assessments of existing levee infrastructure, and review and revise current related policies and procedures associated with levees. There are approximately 100,000 miles of levees in the United States as estimated by the National Committee on Levee Safety; 15,000 miles are part of the USACE portfolio. The following are three categories of levees included in the USACE portfolio:
1) USACE Operated & Maintained
2) Federally Authorized, Local Sponsor Operated & Maintained
3) Non-Federal Levee Systems in the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program
REHABILITATION AND INSPECTION PROGRAM (RIP)
The RIP is the USACE program that provides for inspection of non-Federal flood control projects, the rehabilitation of damaged Federal and non-Federal flood control projects, and the rehabilitation of federally authorized and constructed hurricane or shore protection projects. Inspection of non-Federal flood control works are accomplished under provisions of Public Law (P.L.) 84-99. Projects initially constructed by USACE and turned over to the local sponsor for maintenance are inspected under the authority of the Inspection of Completed Works program. Should an eligible Federal or non-Federal project require rehabilitation assistance as a result of damage from a significant flood or storm event, project rehabilitation would be accomplished under provisions of P.L. 84-99. The RIP is further explained in ER 500-1-1, EP 500-1-1, and ER 1130-2-530.
USACE conducts two types of levee inspections: Routine and Periodic. The Routine inspection is typically conducted annually for all levees in the USACE Levee Safety Program. It is comprised of a visual inspection to verify and rate levee system operations and maintenance. Periodic inspections are conducted every five years only on federally authorized levees in the USACE Levee Safety Program. It is a comprehensive inspection conducted by a USACE multidisciplinary team. Periodic inspections are to verify proper operations and maintenance; evaluate operational adequacy, structural stability and integrity of the system; identify features that require additional monitoring; and improve the ability to communicate the overall condition. An Acceptable or Minimally Acceptable inspection rating is required to allow the project to remain in Active status in the RIP and eligible for P.L. 84-99 assistance.
SYSTEM-WIDE IMPROVEMENT FRAMEWORK (SWIF)
USACE now offers non-federal sponsors a mechanism through which they may remain temporarily eligible for P.L. 84-99 assistance while correcting unacceptable operation and maintenance deficiencies as part of a broader, system-wide improvement to their levee systems. Submitting a SWIF plan is a two-step process: a letter of intent (LOI) followed by submission of a SWIF plan. A SWIF provides committed sponsors the opportunity to transition their levees over time to USACE standards. By using a SWIF, sponsors can prioritize deficiencies to address the highest risk first to achieve system-wide risk reduction.
NATIONAL LEVEE DATABASE (NLD)
The National Levee Database, authorized by Congress in 2007, is the focal point for comprehensive information about our nation’s levees. The database contains information to facilitate and link activities, such as flood risk communication, levee system evaluation for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), levee system inspections, flood plain management, and risk assessments.