Communities in all 50 states depend on levees to reduce flood risks. The Army Corps of Engineers regularly inspects levees that are within its Levee Safety Program to monitor their overall condition, identify deficiencies, and verify that needed maintenance is taking place to determine eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance. Following these inspections, a rating is given based on the levee inspection checklist. Each levee segment receives an overall inspection rating of Acceptable, Minimally Acceptable, or Unacceptable. The most common inspection rating is Minimally Acceptable, but there are levees across America that are categorized as unacceptable condition. They are in every region of the nation, in cities and towns both big and small.
The Newsy News article “The Most Vulnerable Levees in the Nation Have A Lot In Common” provides insight from those who maintain those vulnerable levees. The similarities in the problems these levees have are striking—almost across the board, the problem is the systems are too old and too expensive for locals to fix, much less replace.
Federal funding for non-federally operated and maintained levees is limited, and most levee operations, maintenance, and repair is the responsibility of the levee owner. U.S. levees currently protect 19.5 million people, 5.5 million structures, and $2.5 trillion in property value, yet the ASCE 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gives levees a grade of D. This is a far-reaching problem that will be challenging to resolve, given funding constraints.
Now more than ever, it is important to equip communities with resources to ease flood risk and repair our nation’s levee systems. We need to make wide, substantive changes to the way we monitor and maintain our nation’s levees soon to avoid continued catastrophes. We at Mead & Hunt are committed to doing all we can to provide our levee clients with safe, cost-effective solutions. The safety of our communities should be a top priority for us all.