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Feds re-certify city levee

By Corene Brisendine

After some minor improvements, the city’s levee was re-certified earlier this month, which means that flood insurance will be optional, rather than mandatory, for residential and commercial property owners in parts of Manahttan.

City engineer Rob Ott said the Federal Emergency Management Agency began requiring city levees across the United States to become federally certified in order to participate in a federal flood insurance program.

The city hired an outside engineering firm about a year ago to critically examine the physical integrity of the levee and its ability to keep the flood plain at 1 percent, which means the chance of flooding is one year in a hundred.

Ott said the city received notification of the re-certification on Feb. 8. He said if the levee had failed to be recertified, commercial and residential property owners from City Park to the Big Blue River would have been required to purchase flood insurance.

But the city received the official certification letter from FEMA Feb. 8, so flood insurance for those property owners is optional.

Ott said FEMA hasn’t said how often the levee will have to be re-certified, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspects the levee annually.

He said this summer, city officials plan to ask commissioners to fund the replacement of two relief wells that were removed when the railroad expanded. He said when the levee was first designed in 1961, it had six relief wells at the corner of Tuttle Creek Blvd.and U.S. Highway 24 near the mall.

When the railroad expanded, about where the Union Pacific Depot currently sits, two of the wells were filled in. He said now there is discussion between city officials and the Corps of Engineers to replace those two wells.

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