Recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District has been conducting levee safety risk communication meetings with local elected officials and levee board members. Why are they having these meetings?
The 2007 Water Resource Development Act directed the Corps of Engineers establish and maintain a database with an inventory of the nation’s levees.
In 2010 the district initiated their Level Risk Assessment of each of the levees in their portfolio to help them get a better understanding of the anticipated performance and risk associated with the levees in the district.
The risk assessment takes into account the current condition of the levee, how it is anticipated to perform under certain conditions and what are the consequences if the levee fails to perform under certain conditions and what are the consequences if the levee fails prior to overtopping and at overtopping.
The Corps’ 2015 “Policy Guidance Letter on Placing Levees in a Risk Context, Emphasis on Communication Sponsor Engagement” establishes guidance for communicating flood risks determined from the risk assessment and inspection of the levees. “Mostly this is the right thing to do, through levee inspections and risk assessments we have information that could potentially save lives and reduce property damage,” said Elmo Webb, Little Rock District, levee safety program manager.”
“The meetings with levee boards and local elected officials have been very helpful,” said Webb.
The meetings have helped accomplish numerous objectives including, improving sponsor engagement and understanding of levee safety activities, improve sponsor and community understanding of the benefits and flood risks associated with levee systems, promote actions to reduce and manage the associated flood risks, build a foundation for shared responsibility in developing and implementing flood risk management solutions for levee systems, and help the sponsor communicate the risk to those living behind the levees so the residents know what could happen if the levee fails, so they can make a personal decision if they want to continue to live behind the levee.
When dealing with flood risk don’t assume that the residents and business behind levees know about the status of the levee.
Levee safety risk communication meetings with levee boards and local official will continue throughout the coming months.
For more information about your levee system please contact your local levee board or elected officials.