WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Army Corpy of Engineers (Corps) released the locations of more than 120 levees nationwide that its inspections show have one or more deficient conditions that could prevent the levees from functioning as designed. Maintenance deficiencies include animal burrows, erosion, tree growth, movement of floodwalls, or faulty culvert conditions.
States with the most deficient levees include California with 37, Washington with 19, and Oregon and Massachusetts with 5 each; all other states had fewer than 5 levees each on the list. The list is available online at www.hq.usace.army.mil/cepa/releases/leveelist.pdf.
The Corps annually inspects about 2,000 levee units—about 13,000 miles—including projects built and maintained by the Corps, projects built by the Corps and transferred to a local owner to operate and maintain, and non-federal projects built by a community.
The national levee inventory database is updated regularly and therefore subject to change as new inspections occur and levee owners address maintenance deficiencies. The Corps said its district offices review the results of inspections with levee owners, but released the list to "empower" the public "to take responsibility for its safety."
"We are working closely with the federal, state, and local partners to inform the public so they understand the risks associated with living and working behind levees," said Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley, director of civil works. "This is best accomplished at the local level where levee activity most directly impacts the public."
In a related but separate development, a report released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) concludes that fragile levees, among other problems, make current management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta unsustainable. Most of the deficient levees that the Corps identified in California are associated with the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The PPIC’s report, available online at www.ppic.org, evaluates water supply, environmental impacts, and fiscal costs in the region. In September 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order to develop a "Delta Vision" to provide a sustainable management program for the delta.