Senators to Army Corps: Conduct levee review

Baucus, Tester Push for Army Corps Review of Cascade County Levees

(Washington D.C.)  As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepares to begin inspections of the Great Falls and Vaughn levees during the summer of 2010, Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester are asking for a full certification inspection of these levees to determine if the levees meet current flood control standards.

In letters to the Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Brigadier General John R. McMahon, Commander of the Northwestern Division of the Army Corps, Baucus and Tester asked for a commitment that Montana levees will receive the attention and consideration that the Army Corps has shown to other levees throughout the country. The senators also asked that Montanans receive consistent information about these policies and decisions.

At least one exception has been made to the Corps’ 2008 policy regarding the performance of levee certification for federally constructed levees.  Baucus and Tester believe that the Great Falls and Vaughn levees, due for a periodic inspection this summer, should be considered for a similar exception. Baucus and Tester have each raised concerns about the Corps’ 2008 policy and its impact on rural communities. 

“That policy determination… has had enormous implications for communities throughout Montana and it’s repercussions are continuing to be felt today,” the Senators wrote to Darcy. “While you are reconsidering this policy, it has come to my attention that the Corps has made exceptions to this policy. We are writing to request that similar consideration be given to Great Falls and Vaughn levees which are already scheduled for a periodic inspection in the upcoming year.”

Currently the Federal Emergency Management Agency is remapping the nation’s floodplains and evaluating the nation’s levees to ensure they are safe during flood emergency. Baucus is a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over the Army Corps of Engineers. Tester is a member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the Army Corps’ budget.