LORENZO, Idaho – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract today to conduct temporary emergency levee repairs on an eroded section of the Heise-Roberts Levee System, located on the Snake River near Lorenzo, Idaho, about 3.7 miles downstream from the U.S. Route 20 bridge.
High-flow conditions in the Snake River are eroding a segment of the Heise-Roberts Levee System, about 3.7 miles downstream from the U.S. Route 20 bridge. Immediate emergency repairs are necessary to prevent further erosion which poses a threat to the structural integrity of the levee and about 65 homes located within the leveed area.
A team of trained flood-fight specialists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, arrived on site May 16 in response to a request from Jefferson County emergency managers for help with emergency levee repairs. Since arrival, the Corps team has assessed the levee damage, determined appropriate emergency protective measures, and coordinated for construction-contract work to repair the levee.
The emergency-repair contract was awarded to Sand Point Generating, LLC, an Alaska Native Corporation in Boise, Idaho. The contractor’s crews and equipment are in the process of mobilizing to the site to begin work.
Residents of flood-prone areas in and near these counties are encouraged to keep informed of changing river, stream and weather conditions on the National Weather Service - Pocatello Office website at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pih/
-- which offers flow data, weather forecasts and flood alerts. Follow flood-response instructions issued by your local emergency management agency, and tune-in to local radio and television news stations.
The Corps’ Walla Walla District continues to coordinate with state and local emergency management agencies. On-site Corps engineers continue monitoring the levee-erosion situation very closely.
Corps water management officials are coordinating with other dam managers to make adjustments in system operations that will best accommodate the increased seasonal snowmelt inflows, limiting flows at the damaged levee site to only what is absolutely necessary. Current flows in the Snake River are about 16,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS monitoring gage near Heise, Idaho. Current flows downstream at the damaged levee site are at 10,000 c.f.s. due to upstream irrigation withdrawals. Those flows are anticipated to rise to 18,000 c.f.s. and 12,000 c.f.s., respectively, on Monday, May 21, in adjustment to forecasted increased snowmelt and precipitation inflows expected to result from warming spring temperatures and seasonal rainfall. At the damaged levee site, that 2,000 c.f.s. difference in flow results in about 6 to 12 inches of additional water depth.
The Corps’ goal, if snowmelt and precipitation cooperate, is to provide a time-window of steady flows during which to conduct the emergency levee repairs.
“It is important to understand that every day that flows are not increased, potentially adds another day later on that flows will need to be even greater to prevent overfilling of dams that are located further upstream of the damaged levee site,” said John Heitstuman, District Hydrology Section chief.
Corps water management officials continue coordinating with other federal and non-federal dam managers throughout the greater-Columbia River basin to make adjustments in river system operations that will best accommodate the increased seasonal run-off inflows. They’re monitoring stream gages, weather forecasts, snow melt rates, reservoir capacities and other data to best determine how to manage flows to minimize flood risks to communities, while planning for authorized irrigation storage for agriculture needs.
“We're watching rivers and streams throughout the Walla Walla District area of operations and staying in touch with local emergency officials, so if requested to, we can plan, prepare or act,” said Jeff Stidham, Walla Walla District’s emergency operations manager. “Our top priority is the public’s safety, so we’re encouraging folks in low-lying parts of flood-prone areas stay tuned to information and advisories provided by the National Weather Service or their local emergency-service agencies and be ready to take action according to local flood response plans.”
Idaho Office of Emergency Management https://ioem.idaho.gov/
encourages Idaho residents to be prepared to respond to localized flooding. Individuals are encouraged to contact local emergency management agencies to ensure they understand how to receive updates and information specific to their location. Jefferson County residents can register for alerts online http://www.co.jefferson.id.us/Emergency_Management.php
The Corps is authorized to work with states, counties and other public entities to provide necessary resources and information. The Corps does not have authority to provide disaster assistance directly to individuals. The organization will continue to carefully watch the evolving situation and respond, when requested, with whatever assistance is authorized, appropriate and available.
The first responsibility for protecting homes and property from flood damage rests with the individual. Local governments and agencies, such as flood control districts, may share in this responsibility, and together form a community's first line of defense in preventing flood damages.
Occasionally, however, local resources are not able to control or contain a flood emergency situation. The Corps’ flood disaster assistance program is intended to supplement and assist local governments, institutions and special-purpose districts when more help is needed.
The Walla Walla District is prepared to assist states and municipalities with flood-management support, if requested, said Jeff Stidham, Walla Walla District disaster response manager. That assistance could include technical expertise, supplies and materials, equipment or contracts for emergency flood-fighting work.
State, tribal, and county agencies needing disaster assistance from the Corps should contact the Walla Walla District Emergency Management Office at 509-527-7146, or 509-380-4538.