The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

Tester Urges Army CoE to Work with City on Glasgow Flood Levee

 

September 5, 2018



U.S. Senator Jon Tester is pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take an active role to help return Glasgow’s flood Levee back to active status. In a letter sent to Chief Engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers Lt. General Todd T. Semonite in August, Tester urged the Corps to provide leniency or financial support to help Glasgow meet these recommendations in a timely manner.

“I respectfully ask you to consider any financial means necessary in order to help Glasgow meet the requirements set forth by the Army Corps of Engineers to return the Levee to active status,” Tester wrote. “At the very least, I ask that you work in good faith with Glasgow’s community leaders to find creative solutions that don’t shift the financial burden to residents of this rural and robust community.”

According to City Planner Rob Kompel, the Levee was placed on inactive status in 2011 due to a series of structures that encroach to within 15 feet of the base of the Levee. In a plan approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, Glasgow has worked to fix the problem but will likely not be able to meet the Army Corps of Engineer deadline of 2021.

Kompel added that the low-end estimated cost to fix the issue of encroachments would cost over $4.2 million, and would encompass purchasing encroaching properties, building the Levee out further from the community (which would require an environmental impact statement) and acquiring empty land along the Levee's path.

In his correspondents with the Corps of Engineers, Tester requested that the 2021 deadline be extended to 2025 allowing for more time to complete the necessary fixes and to have the Levee reactivated under the Corps’ program.

Tester’s Chief of Staff Aaron Murphy met with Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson and Kompel earlier this month and Tester’s office worked closely with the city while writing the letter to the Army Corps of Engineers.

According to Kompel, the Levee began in 1911 as a private project that eventually was co-oped by the city and then taken over in the 1930s by the Army Corps of Engineers. Kompel explained that many of the encroaching structures were in place long before the Corps’ 15-foot buffer-zone requirement.

The Glasgow Levee has routinely prevented annual floods of the Milk River and Willow Creek. If the Corps refused to certify the Levee then the Federal Emergency Management Agency could classify the homes and businesses below the Levee as residing in the flood plain. This would require all structures to purchase flood insurance at an estimated cost ranging from $900,000 to $2.1 million per year.

Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson told the Courier, “We have been working diligently to coordinate congressional support to assist us in extending the timeframe to complete the SWIF, and to financially assist in its completion.” Mayor Erickson went on to say that letters were forthcoming from Congressman Gianforte’s office and that they were working on contacting Senator Steve Daines. She asserted that congressional funding was a necessity in completing the Levee and that, “there was no way,” the residents of Glasgow could foot the bill necessary to complete the requirements.

 

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