BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEVER – A proposal from the Green Bay drainage district to increase the height of the district’s levy has many in the area concerned about the resulting impact to area land.
The Green Bay Levee & Drainage District No. 2 put in a request with Rock Island District Corps of Engineers to at a minimum keep the current height which currently exceeds authorized limits.
The current earthen levee elevation is authorized to reach the 100-year flood plain level plus one foot according to the request. However in 2008, Green Bay raised the elevation to two feet higher than federal authorization. According to the report, it currently sits above the 100-year plus 3 feet elevation.
A new proposed increase would set the levee another foot higher at a 100-year plus 4 feet elevation.
The district cited flood risk management and reduced flood operations and costs as reasons to build up the levee.
The area has seen floods go over the 500-year flood plain twice in the the past 25 years, including 1993 and 2008.
The district contends it protects 73 adults, 233 full-time jobs and $3.3 billion in fixed assets within the district, including a grain cooperative and the Iowa Fertilizer Co.
The request is currently in a month-long comment period where anyone with concerns can contact the corps until Nov. 30 via email at MVR408@usace.army.mil.
Lee County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Steve Cirinna said he has some questions about the proposal and its impact to other area communities.
The report shows water surface impacts that would affect 16 towns along the Mississippi River at Pool 19, including among others, Burlington, Fort Madison, Keokuk, Montrose, Niota, Dallas City, and Pontoosuc. Software projections for Fort Madison didn’t show additional flooding due to the Green Bay proposed change.
Software projections show another 500-year flood event would put most of the impact east and north of the drainage district with Dallas City, Lomax, Carman, Gulfport, and Burlington suffering additional flooding. Burlington is currently working to install flood gates in places along downtown to help mitigate flooding issues.
Cirinna said he’s concerned with the impact of the flooding north of the district. But he said he hasn’t had an opportunity to speak with the corps or Green Bay district chairman Mike Walker.
Several requests to reach Walker and other Green Bay District board members, including Ron Mueller and Rick Kuntz, for comment were unsuccessful.
“I have a lot of questions on this report,” Cirrina said. “These projections are computer-generated and I think you need to go back and look at what actually happened in 1993.”
He said at some point the corps is going to have to say no to all these mitigations because it creates more pressure on other areas the water will go.
“Are they going to do something to protect those places behind the district? I just don’t know. Are we setting a precedent where we are going to flood downtown Burlington but because you don’t have as many people they don’t allow it? There are just a lot of questions with this proposal,” Cirinna said.
He said there are going to be additional flooding issues in those 500-year years but most seem to be across from the district and north.
“It’s gonna flood all kinds of places up in Burlington. Green Bay is doing their protection which is all well and good and Burlington does their protection. Everybody along the river is doing what they can to protect, but what you’ll have is this progressive backup.”
Jack Curfman, Illinois Emergency Management Agency coordinator for Hancock County, declined to comment on the matter saying he didn’t have enough information to comment at the time.
The public comment period runs through Nov. 26.