Archived Story

Floodwall subject of federal mandates

Published 9:21am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Early next year, some Ironton residents will find out if they have structures just a little too close to the floodwall.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said an inspection report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows encroachments, among other issues, along the seven-mile levee system that must be fixed in the next two years.

Getting the city’s levee system up to par with federal requirements is now a top priority, Blankenship said.

While the city has been working to correct many of the issues, some are too large to fund. Ironton residents pay into a half-mill flood levy, which brings in about $120,000 per year, but won’t cover the costs of all the necessary improvements, Blankenship said.

“We can’t keep going back to the citizens and say ‘you need to pay for this,’” he said.

The inspections and unfunded mandates for repairs stem from Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of flood levees in Louisiana. Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a consulting firm to inspect the city’s levees and pumps, a more than 70-year-old system, as well as cities across the country, to ensure flood prevention systems were working properly and up to code.

According to the report, any structure, such as a garage, outbuilding, fence line, and even trees, within 15 feet of the toe of the floodwall are considered encroachments and must be moved.

But the mandates don’t just affect residents along the seven miles of floodwalls. If compliance isn’t made within the two-year time frame, each Ironton citizen could be required to purchase flood insurance.

“If in this time frame we don’t adhere to these recommendations, there is a possibility that FEMA and or the corps can decertify our floodwall, which means basically the floodwall is not there,” he said. “It would require the citizens of Ironton to purchase flood insurance.”

Blankenship said he wanted to make the public aware that there are some concerns with funding the floodwall improvements, but that he is working with Congressman Bill Johnson’s office to find assistance with grants. Johnson met with the mayor last week and Blankenship said he will be in constant contact with the congressman’s office.

In the coming months, Blankenship said he will hold public meetings to discuss citizens’ concerns and to keep the community abreast of what the city is doing to correct the issues.

“It is not my intention at all to scare anyone or for them to rush out and buy flood insurance,” Blankenship said.

He also said he planned to file for a two-year extension on the project.

Meanwhile, the city is continuing work on separating its storm water sewage drainage systems, also an unfunded mandate required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Phase 1 of the project, which included the north end of Ironton, was recently completed. The next phase is set to begin in July and includes the North Fifth and Elm streets area.

A storm water fee was added in recent years to fund the federally mandated project.

“We have a good handle on it,” Blankenship said. “We know what we have to do. We know the schedule.”

The project must be completed by 2025.

  1. southpaw

    The author of this article and those commenting are evidently youngsters or just uninformed. The floodwall was constructed in the late 30′s and early 40′s after the tragic 1937 flood. It is a fact that some of the property that the floodwall was built on was donated{actually sold for $1.00} to the Corp of Engineers to enable the construction of the floodwall. I know for a fact that many of the structures that are closer than 15 feet to the levy were there before the floodwall was built and the property the floodwall occupies was previously those property owners backyard, so do you think those property owners should be punished because the federal engineers decided to build it so close to those structures.

    (Report comment)

  2. bigkahuna

    Give the encroachers 90 days to remove said encroachments,then remove them at government expense and add said money onto their property taxes. Case closed,next problem please.

    (Report comment)

  3. mikehaney

    “But the mandates don’t just affect residents along the seven miles of floodwalls. If compliance isn’t made within the two-year time frame, each Ironton citizen could be required to purchase flood insurance.”
    Sounds like threat ODOT gave the county over Ellisonville park. WE’RE GOING TO TEAR IT DOWN IN THIRTY DAYS!! By the way,any progress on the park?
    Also,storm water sewage,13 more years to comply? What? Owned a home in north Ironton in 70′s and was aware of this problem then. Previous owner didn’t have fixed so I corrected on my own. That was 40 yrs ago!
    ““We have a good handle on it,” Blankenship said. “We know what we have to do. We know the schedule.”
    Hang in there Mayor.

    (Report comment)

Editor's Picks

DNA group has second meeting

More than 40 people attended the second Death to Negative Attitudes (DNA) meeting on Thursday at the Ro-Na Theater. Many of the same people along ... Read more

Barker selected as Memorial Day Parade honorary grand marshal

The selection committee has chosen Hardy Barker as Honorary Grand Marshal of the Ironton Memorial Day Parade, the oldest continually held Memorial Day Parade in ... Read more

Global Warming?

  Temperatures still climbing despite subzero conditions nationally   Despite a cold snap that seems to be gripping the entire nation, experts like Ohio State ... Read more  | 4 comments