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Contract awards come fast and furious as fiscal year 2016 wraps up

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Sept. 29, 2010

Background

In 2006, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revamped its Levee Safety Program; inventorying the 2,000 levee systems in its portfolio, refining its levee inspection program, and revising its levee safety policies and procedures. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided funds to jumpstart levee periodic inspections, a more detailed inspection conducted once every five years. Under $4.6 million in ARRA contracts to engineering firms, the Corps’ Sacramento District has completed inspections on 10 of a scheduled 26 levee systems in the Central Valley in 2010, including those in Yuba City, Marysville, Sacramento, and the Stockton area. The results of these inspections determine continued eligibility for the Levee Safety Program’s Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP), the Corps’ authority to provide federal aid in repairing levees damaged by floods or storms. They also provide a better picture of levee conditions in the Central Valley; an important step in our shared efforts with state and local authorities to communicate flood risk and make informed decisions on how best to reduce it. The results of the remaining inspections are scheduled for release in winter 2010.

Inspection Procedures

Contracted engineers, along with Corps levee safety experts, walked each of the levee systems under inspection, looking for anything that would jeopardize levee performance during a flood or storm, or hamper access to levees for inspection or during a flood fight. Findings were shared with the agencies responsible for maintaining each levee for comment and review, and final findings reports, including specific information on levee deficiencies, were issued in September 2010.

Findings

Levees were evaluated as systems, and carry the rating of their lowest-rated segment. Levee systems are defined as providing a common area of flood risk reduction, and may contain several levee segments, often maintained by a variety of different agencies. Systems were rated Acceptable, Minimally Acceptable or Unacceptable depending on whether they are likely to perform as intended during a flood or storm. Most systems rated Unacceptable become inactive in the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP), and are ineligible for federal assistance in repairing levees damaged by floods or storms until the deficiencies are corrected. Based on these periodic inspections, systems in Yuba City, Marysville and parts of Stockton have become inactive in RIP. A full table of results is available here: www.spk.usace.army.mil/organizations/cespk-co/levee_safety. All systems in the Levee Safety Program remain eligible for Corps flood fighting assistance, regardless of RIP status. Periodic inspections of levee systems in Stockton, Colusa and West Sacramento are ongoing, with results due for release in winter 2010.

What do they mean?

Systems rated Unacceptable have deficiencies that threaten levee performance during a flood or storm. But a Minimally Acceptable or Acceptable rating is not a guarantee of safety. Systems are only as strong as their weakest link, and Minimally Acceptable systems may have deficiencies that could jeopardize levee performance. Living behind levees comes with inherent risk. Corps levee inspection results are a resource for the public and our partner agencies to better understand their risk and make informed decisions accordingly.