WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The paved trail on the north side of the federally managed section of the Mill Creek Levee System reopened to visitors Wednesday, Jan. 6, following the completion of Phase-1 work to remove overgrown vegetation which encroached into the levee’s maintenance-access zone, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials announced today.
This maintenance is necessary to meet National Levee Safety Program requirements in accordance with Corps headquarters regulations and policies. Non-compliant vegetation on levees blocks visibility for inspections, access for maintenance, hinders flood fighting, and adds uncertainty to structural performance and reliability, which increases risk to the public. The inability to inspect, maintain or flood fight could delay emergency response or contribute to risk of levee failure. Life safety is paramount for the Corps’ operations.
Restoring the federally managed section of the Mill Creek Levee System to meet national safety standards includes removing about 6 acres of woody vegetation from the landward side of the levees. Phase-1 of that work, which began Oct. 8, 2015, involved removing vegetation from the surface of the levee slopes and 15-feet outward from the levee’s design toe.
“We’re very pleased that the Phase-1 work was completed on schedule, and we can kick off the new year by reopening the levee trails for our visitors,” said Justin Stegall, Mill Creek Project operations manager. “I want to thank our visitors for their patience during the temporary trail closures, while we make our levees safe and sustainable for future.”
Now that the levee surface is visible, Corps staff will perform inspections to fully identify needed repairs to the structure. A separate contract will be competed to conduct Phase-2 work -- stumps and roots will be removed, and levee material will be replaced and compacted. After the maintenance zone is cleared -- surface and sub-surface -- and levee repairs completed, grasses will be planted on the levees to improve the aesthetics and benefit insects and wildlife.
Work-progress photographs, environmental-compliance documents, videos, news releases and other information about this levee-maintenance project is available on the Corps’ website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/MillCreekLeveeMaintenance.aspx