Council Bluffs, IA - Levee System Improvement Project

Engineering
Funding
Hazard Mitigation
Water Resources

The Challenge: 
The City of Council Bluffs is provided flood risk reduction protection by an integrated levee system made up of many components including 28.5 miles of earthen embankment. But the levee system has to meet the requirements and criteria specified in 44 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 65.10 to provide this level of protection on future FIRM maps. Council Bluffs hired our Water Resources team to evaluate the levee system against FEMA certification and USACE requirements. After a thorough evaluation, we identified and outlined an extensive improvement plan to improve the flood risk reduction provided by the system, otherwise the Council Bluffs Levee System would not meet USACE and FEMA requirements. 

The Solution: 
We performed preliminary and detailed feasibility evaluations for the existing levee system and studied each element of the levee system for compliance with current USACE and FEMA criteria. The evaluations identified up to $75M in flood mitigation improvements to ensure the 28.5-mile levee system continues to provide a consistent level of flood risk reduction for over 12,700 structures within the city.  Upon completion of the evaluation phase, our team was hired as a program manager to coordinate all future work on the levee system. This work consists of additional hydraulic evaluation, design, permitting, and construction tasks on 25 individual projects to be completed over the next ten years. Our Hazard Mitigation team also worked with the city to develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) which includes a flood risk communication plan outlining the strategies that the city will utilize to create awareness around flood risks. 

Our Funding department aided the city in obtaining a flood mitigation grant of up to $100 million to fund future levee improvements. By identifying grants and resources that the city would be eligible for, a funding impossibility suddenly became possible.  

Project Benefits: 
With 60% of Council Bluffs and more than 35,000 residents behind the levee's walls, the levee system defends a significant portion of the city from destructive flooding. Ensuring the levee system meets or exceeds FEMA and USACE requirements ensures that flood risk is low for citizens, property, and natural resources.