Corps: Utah County Levees Have Problems

Salt Lake County, Utah’s levee systems are in unacceptable shape, according to a review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Officials with the Corps’ Sacramento District announced Friday that they found several problems in levees along the 12-mile Surplus Canal that drains Jordan River water into the Great Salt Lake.

The shortcomings include old pipes in the levees, unacceptable vegetation and levees that have disintegrated to the point that they are hardly visible.

The rating means the county will not be eligible for federal aid to help with post-storm levee repairs until it shows it is addressing the problems. The Corps would still help out in an active flood situation, regardless of the designation.

While the Corps provides its findings to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the rating does not directly affect eligibility for the National Flood Insurance Program.

County Public Works Director Russ Wall said the county has already started working to fix the issues and has completed repairs on 55 sites to date. Requests for more funding are included in the county’s 2014 budget, he added.

“We take very seriously our responsibility to maintain and properly operate flood control facilities that provide protection to Salt Lake County property owners,” he said in a statement.

The Corps’ levee safety program was beefed up in 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It involves inspections each year, with in-depth reviews every five years.

Corps officials said a significant portion of the nation’s levees are rated unacceptable.

“Levee inspections are all about making sure that a levee can reliably do what we expect it to,” said Ryan Larson, Sacramento District acting levee safety program manager. “Our findings help the agencies that own and maintain these levees prioritize levee fixes _ and help the public understand their flood risk and make informed decisions about protecting their property.”