Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials hear concerns about levee districts

WAPELLO – A second trip to southeast Iowa by officials from the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management confirmed that Louisa County Levee District No. 11 is facing d major repairs needed.

Finding a way to help the Drain Trustees complete these repairs will likely involve a cooperative effort.

Mark Newall and Larry Gioffredi said their trip was part of a 10-county levee study, which included Louisa, Des Moines, Muscatine and Lee counties in southeast Iowa; as well as six western counties along the Missouri River.

Following: Louisa County officials plead for flood relief funding to Iowa Homeland Security

While the two spent parts of Wednesday and Thursday in the county and visited several local levee districts, in a Thursday morning meeting with the Louisa County Board of Supervisors, County Engineer Adam Shutt and Levee 11 District Administrators Bert Eddy and Jeff Henke, much of the discussion focused on District 11.

Newhall said part of the levee study involved searching county districts to determine if there were errors in some of the databases used by federal and state agencies.

Referring to District 11, Newhall said his and Gioffredi’s research uncovered a glaring error in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ national levee database.

“If you look at the national database, (it) says Louisa District 11 was built in 2010, but your records tell us it was built in 1910, so there are discrepancies there” , did he declare.

He then acknowledged that dyke districts face challenges and asked the group what they saw as those challenges.

Supervisor Chris Ball was quick to point out federal buyouts of flooded land following devastating floods over the past 30 years.

“So many of our levee districts have been depopulated,” he said, adding that much of the purchased land has been converted into hard-to-manage conservation areas for the county or managed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Iowa or US Fish and Wildlife Service and reverted to willows and other undesirable vegetation.

He said both developments have led to reduced revenues for the surviving districts.

Eddy and Henke repeated concerns they expressed to Newhall when he and other state officials visited the county last November. They agreed with Ball that revenue generation was a key issue, especially with the repairs needed in their district.

These repairs included the repair of several levee breaches at the south end of the neighborhood; and the restoration of an abandoned seawall south of LD 11. Both administrators said this part could function as a wing dam and protect the seawall of LD 11.

Henke said the district’s levees, which stretch both north and south of Louisa County 99 and east of Wapello, are still in the USACE certification program, but most of the southern part is no longer eligible for repair aid due to a low benefit/cost ratio. .

Supervisor Brad Quigley said it’s a major concern because the District 11 levees protect Highway 99 and the $9.4 million bridge that was completed in 2020.

The two state officials said they would continue to research the issues and suggested possible grant programs the district could use to apply for repair assistance. They also indicated that they may use Levee District 11 as a case example in their study.

This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Louisa County Supervisors Express Concerns About Levee 11 District

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