City attempts to bring levee back to active status
By: Eric Johnson
Because the Corps of Engineers has moved the Augusta Levee from “Active” to “Inactive” status, city leaders are attempting to find solutions that will bring the levee back into the fold, a move that right now requires an additional $69,000.
As a result of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers periodic inspection in August 2010, the corps dropped the levee from a program that provides financial assistance when repairing a levee or the public structures protected by a levee if they are damaged as a result of a flood.
After a meeting in February 2011, the city was able to address most of the corps’ concerns, but the corps asked for additional information regarding two deficiencies — the Waters Edge subdivision and Port Royal, both of which are built on the levee.
“They’re saying that it could cause some problems, but we’re just basically trying to prove that it doesn’t impact the levee and then come up with a plan of action,” says Engineering Director Abie Ladson.
If successful, that plan of action would reinstate the levee into the Corps of Engineers’ PL 84-99 program, which gives the corps authority over flood preparedness. Ladson says the inactive status is not affecting the city right now, but the assessment is an attempt to head off trouble. Potentially, the inactive status could affect property owners in terms of the cost of their insurance. And should the levee be damaged in a flood, compliance would mean financial assistance in the levee’s repair as well as the repair of property protected by it.
“Most likely, the consultant will try to prove that the construction on the levee doesn’t negatively impact it,” Ladson says. “I think they’re going to throw that out there and if they don’t bite on that, they might come up with some alternatives.”
For Port Royal, the new assessment work would include a search for the original plans, a field survey and map of existing structural improvements, and a structural analysis of existing walls that retain the levee.
The main work, however, involves the Waters Edge, where plans advocate widening the levee by adding a 20-foot thick soil embankment to the land side of the levee between 13th Street and Hawks Gully, which would leave the existing Waters Edge outside the effective levee. The phased approach to this would likely produce new drainage elements and a relocated bikeway.
The Port Royal portion of the assessment will cost nearly $22,000, while the Waters Edge assessment will cost $37,500. Adding the response letter to the corps and miscellaneous consultation, the total cost of the project will be just over $69,000. The money will come from SPLOST IV recapture funds.
This cost, of course, only covers the assessments, not the cost of any actual changes.
Many in Augusta feel the levee is an unneeded structure that, if torn down, could drastically improve the downtown area by adding valuable riverfront property, but Ladson says he isn’t sure that’s realistic.
“You’ll probably pay way more money to tear it down than to keep it up,” he says. “You’re talking about hauling all that dirt out — where do you put it? To me, that’s just not feasible.” You Might Also Like: