The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ national portfolio of levee systems is large (more than 2,500 systems totaling more than 14,700 miles), aging (most are 55+ years), incredibly beneficial to communities (more than 14 million people live and work behind them and they contributed to more than $141 billion in damages prevented in 2011 alone), and relied upon to be the quiet sentinel against unpredictable flooding.
However, in addition to the physical condition of levee systems, risks are influenced by the dynamic natural environment (changing flood frequency and increasing ground subsidence), unacceptable vegetation and increased development in and upstream of communities with levees.
The Corps’ Levee Safety Program’s mission is to work with others to assess, communicate and manage inundation risks to people, property and the environment resulting from potential breach or malfunction of components of levee systems.
The Levee Safety Program applies to all completed storm and flood damage reduction systems, including levees, channels, floodwalls, and hurricane and shore protection systems that 1) the Corps operates and maintains, 2) are federally authorized projects in the Inspection of Completed Works Program, and 3) are non-federal projects in the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program.
The Corps’ Levee Safety Program emphasizes the role of levees in flood damage reduction to avoid loss of life and property damage. The program will help achieve three goals: 1) reduce risk and increase public safety through an informed public, empowered to take responsibility for its safety, 2) develop a clear national levee safety policy and standards, and 3) maintain a sustainable flood damage reduction system that meets public safety needs. The Albuquerque District’s Levee Safety Program Manager is Will Trujillo, and questions can be directed to 505-342-3487.