Clark County’s levees holding up despite flaws

first_imgStanding in the lobby at the headquarters of the Port of Camas-Washougal, David Ripp pointed to a map of about 1,500 acres of land near the Columbia River that the port uses to support jobs and industry. He said what keeps this land dry and suitable for economic activity is a levee, 5 miles of rock, dirt and sand that keep the river from flooding. “The reason for this levee is all this property would flood,” he said. “This would all be underwater.” In Clark County, there are nearly 46 miles of levees, embankments along rivers that protect 16,170 acres of urban, rural and agricultural land. Some of them are periodically inspected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that pumps are working and that the structure isn’t being unsettled by tree roots and animal burrows, among other issues. Ripp said the Corps has taken a different approach to how it inspects levees since the August 2005 flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. A federal judge ruled in 2009 that the Corps neglected the levees that broke and led to the flooding. Congress later directed the Corps to inventory and inspect federally overseen levees. According to Corps spokesman Karim Delgado, levees are categorized as “urban” if they protect 20 or more buildings. There are three levees in Clark County, including the one owned by the Port of Camas-Washougal, that meet this designation.last_img read more

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