News: Corps of Engineers to raise levees at Valley City, N.D.
Story by Shannon Bauer
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will begin raising existing levees another foot in Valley City, N.D., today since flows out of Baldhill Dam may reach historic levels this week.
The Corps shored up Valley City’s existing system to a river stage of 21 to 21.5 feet last week. Since the National Weather Service has now predicted the Sheyenne River will crest at Valley City at 20.5 feet on Friday, April 15, the Corps will now raise these levees to protect to a level of 22.5 feet. Six-D Construction Company from Valley City will complete the work.
The Corps may need to release record outflows, Thursday, April 14, to account for water flowing into the reservoir that is exceeding 2009 levels. The U.S. Geological Survey measured 7,000 cubic feet per second at Warwick, N.D., Monday, April 11. This is 2,000 cfs above the record flow from 2009. This flow will continue on down the Sheyenne River, through Cooperstown, N.D., and into the reservoir, Lake Ashtabula, during the next week. The National Weather Service is predicting a peak inflow value of more than 10,000 cfs into the reservoir.
To manage this onslaught, the Corps must increase outflows today to 6,500 cfs. Outflows may be raised Thursday to 7,000 cfs and held for several days. The peak outflow in 2009 was 6,700 cfs, and held for one day. The Corps needs to begin releasing this water in order to ensure the reservoir does not fill up and flow uncontrolled toward downstream communities.
While there are inherent risks associated with all levee systems, emergency levees constructed during a flood fight are not engineered structures and are intended to be temporary. Local officials should still have evacuation plans in place in the event of an emergency.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, serves the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. It contributes around $175 million to the five-state district economy. The 700 employees work at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.