Fort Wayne levees scheduled for updates to reduce flood risk

Published July 15, 2011
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Corps, and the City of Fort Wayne are working together to develop corrective actions to address the levee safety issues identified in an inspection report and bring the system back into compliance. The City of Fort Wayne is proactively working to address these issues.

The Corps, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, updated its approach to evaluating and communicating the risks associated with levees. As a result, the Detroit District of the Corps informed the City of Fort Wayne that additional maintenance to Central, East and West Levee Systems needs to be completed to improve levee performance.

The Corps performs periodic inspections and rates all three levee systems and all received an unacceptable rating under the updated approach. The ratings indicated the levee systems require maintenance.

“Public safety is the number one goal of the Levee Safety Program,” said Detroit District commander Lt. Col. Michael Derosier. “We want to make sure levee systems are reliable and do not present unacceptable risks to the public, economy or environment.”

The revamped levee safety program improves how the Corps communicates risk and inspects levees by adding a more rigorous periodic inspection requirement to its program. Prior to the 2010 periodic inspection, the Corps-designed levee systems were either acceptable or minimally acceptable.

The Corps’ process consists of two types of inspections: routine inspections and periodic inspections. A routine, or annual, inspection is a visual inspection that verifies proper levee system operation and maintenance. A periodic inspection verifies proper operation and maintenance and also provides a more rigorous level of assessment than the annual routine inspection. Activities under the periodic inspection include evaluations of operational adequacy, structural stability and safety of the system. Periodic inspections are a new requirement under the Levee Safety Program and will be conducted every five years.

“The City of Fort Wayne is grateful to the Army Corps for their assistance in helping to prevent flooding of homes and businesses in our community,” said Bob Kennedy, Fort Wayne’s director of public works. “The changes and repairs we are making are similar to routine maintenance. We are committed to working with the Corps to continue to provide protection against floods under the new rules.”

Due to the new ratings, the Fort Wayne Central, East and West levee systems are no longer eligible for federal rehabilitation assistance if damaged in a flood or storm event. The Corps will continue to provide flood fighting assistance during flood emergencies. It is also important to note that these unacceptable inspection ratings do not mean the Corps has decertified the levees from the National Flood Insurance Program. That decision is between the City of Fort Wayne and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA.

The City is currently developing and implementing the repairs and modifications to make the central, east and west levees acceptable. Some of these repairs include filling of animal burrows, reseeding bare patches, sealing cracks in concrete floodwalls, and stabilizing slopes.

The levee systems are part of the Fort Wayne Flood Control Project that was designed and constructed by the Detroit District Corps of Engineers and operated and maintained by the City of Fort Wayne.

The mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program is to assess the integrity and viability of levees and recommend courses of action to make sure that levee systems do not present unacceptable risks to the public, property, and environment. For more information on the program, go to
Lynn Duerod
Frank Suarez

Release no. 071511-01