News: Town looks to Corps for help
Story by Jay Townsend
AUGUSTA, Ark. - The Army Corps of Engineers’ Little Rock District and the city of Augusta, Ark., have teamed up to ensure the White River doesn’t wash away a piece of the town’s history, swallow up an access road, or damage the community’s main sewer line.
The joint venture was recently solidified when Augusta Mayor Rocky Tidwell and Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District Commander Col. Glen Masset signed a Project Partnership Agreement to proceed with a streambank protection project. The PPA defines the obligations of the Little Rock District and the sponsor in the construction, maintenance, and cost sharing of the project.
The project was born in 2010 when city officials reached out to the Little Rock District for help.
“The Little Rock District manages a water resources infrastructure worth $6.5 billion, operates 13 locks and dams, seven hydroelectric power plants, and we generate enough electricity each year to power up to 500,00 households,” said Masset. “But, it’s projects like this that I get most excited about. It’s great to be able to help and serve our community neighbors in Augusta.”
Heavy rains in the spring of 2008 and 2009 caused serious bank erosion along the White River near Augusta’s downtown area. The city is located approximately 75 miles northeast of Little Rock and has a population of about 2,700.
“We are extremely pleased the Army Corps of Engineers is going to assist our city with fixing this problem,” said Augusta Mayor Rocky Tidwell.
According to the Corps Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment, if the embankment continues to deteriorate the city could lose a large portion of their underground sewer main, a city road with parking lot, the historic American Legion Hut, and a historic cultural resource button factory site.
“We are able to help the community under the Continuing Authorities Program,” said Nancy Haseley, Little Rock District project manager.
The unique federal and local government partnership and cost sharing agreement is possible under the Continuing Authorities Program which establishes a process by which the Corps of Engineers can respond to a variety of water resource problems without the need to obtain specific congressional authorization for each project.
The Augusta project is authorized by Section 14 the Flood Control Act of 1946, Emergency Streambank and Shore Protection.
Under the Continuing Authorities Program, the Corps is authorized to construct small projects within specific Federal funding limits. The total cost of a project is shared among the Federal government and a non-Federal sponsor. The Augusta project will cost about $1 million with the Little Rock District covering 65 percent of the cost and the city paying the remaining 35 percent.
Haseley said another high water event in 2011 makes the project even more critical for the Augusta community.
“If the bank continues to erode and sewer main fails, the contents would drain directly into the White River and cause significant environmental damages,” she said.
The project now moves to a design and implementation phase. A contract is scheduled to be awarded in the summer of 2013 and construction should begin in July 2013. The project’s projected completion date is sometime in October 2013, baring there are no unforeseen delays.