Corps completes Lawyers Creek levee system periodic inspection

Published Jan. 24, 2011

Corps completes Lawyers Creek levee system periodic inspection

KAMIAH, Idaho –  The Lawyers Creek levee system, which is operated and maintained by the City of Kamiah, Lewis County and Idaho County, received an overall system rating of  “unacceptable” following its most recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers periodic inspection report finalized on Dec. 21, 2010. 

This levee system is no longer eligible for federal rehabilitation assistance if it is damaged in a flood or storm event.  The Corps will re-inspect the levee system when the project sponsor corrects the deficiencies. The Corps will also continue to work with local authorities during flood events, to include temporary emergency repairs to the structure under specific conditions. Affected residents should contact city or county emergency management officials for information about local flood response plans.

It is important to note that this unacceptable inspection rating does not mean the Corps has decertified the levee for the National Flood Insurance Program, a FEMA-managed program. Certification documentation is the responsibility of the levee sponsor. For information concerning the National Flood Insurance Program in relation to this levee system, contact the levee sponsor or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Lawyers Creek levee system is located on the south side of the City of Kamiah, Idaho. The left embankment is in Lewis County and the City of Kamiah, and the right embankment is in Idaho County, Idaho. A significant portion of the City of Kamiah as well as property in Idaho and Lewis County are protected by the Lawyers Creek levee system. The project was constructed in 1960, and consists of left and right bank levee systems along approximately 8,300 feet of Lawyers Creek.

“Public safety is the number one goal of the National Levee Safety Program,” said Herb Bessey, Walla Walla District’s Levee Safety Program manager.  “We want to make sure levee systems are reliable and do not present unacceptable risks to the public, economy or environment.”

Inspections and assessments provide continuous feedback about levee systems and their reliability and are a critical part of the Corps’ Levee Safety Program. Routine inspections, conducted annually, focus on the operation and maintenance of the project. These annual inspections verify the project sponsor operates and maintains the levee to achieve the maximum benefits the levee was designed to provide.  Routine inspection items include vegetation, encroachments, drainage structures, erosion, animal burrows and culverts.  Routine inspections result in an acceptable, minimally acceptable or unacceptable rating and affect the project’s eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance under Public Law 84-99 if damaged in a flood or storm event. 

The periodic inspection is the next level in the levee safety program and is conducted by a multidisciplinary team, led by a professional engineer.  It includes a more detailed, comprehensive and consistent evaluation of the condition of the levee system and will be conducted every five years. Activities under the periodic inspection program include routine inspection items; verifies proper operation and maintenance; evaluates operational adequacy, structural stability and, safety of the system; and compares current design and construction criteria with those in place when the levee was built. 

The final periodic inspection rating is based upon the routine inspection items, and includes an acceptable, minimally acceptable or unacceptable rating. Additional periodic inspection information that will be shared with the project sponsor includes identification of components and features that require monitoring over time.

The executive summary of the levee’s most recent periodic inspection reports can be obtained by contacting Herb Bessey at (509) 527-7144.

The National Levee Safety Program Act of 2007 directs the development of a national levee safety program, in addition to the inventory and inspection of levees nationwide. More information about the National Levee Safety Program is available on the Web at


Release no. 11-05