City floodwall system facing tougher restrictions

Published 10:49 am Monday, May 14, 2012

Foreign structures must be removed


It’s going to cost the City of Ironton more to care for its floodwall system.

David Humphreys, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told city leaders last week federal officials have toughened requirements for cities that have floodwall systems and take part in the corps’ Rehabilitations and Inspection Program.

Email newsletter signup

That program allows city leaders to get federal help if the floodwall or levy system is damaged due to a natural disaster.

Humphreys said the federal entity now requires Ironton and other cities to make a periodic video inspection of its entire system of pipelines and to deal with encroachment issues. He said people whose property backs up to the floodwall often build too close to the toe, or bottom of the floodwall.

The city must enforce federal restrictions of having no structures at all on the floodwall toe, an area that is roughly 15 feet on either side of the face of the floodwall. This includes structures such as garages, picnic tables and gazebos as well as trees and other vegetation.

“How much is this going to cost?” city council member Beth Rist wanted to know. Humphreys said he did not have any firm figures.

“What happens if we do a more detailed analysis and find expensive repairs need to be made? Who pays for that?” council member Philip Heald asked.

“The city,” Humphreys replied.

Humphreys said such disasters as Hurricane Katrina and the flooding in the Louisville, Ky., area prompted the more rigorous changes.

Ironton Floodwall Superintendent Mike Pemberton said the cost of upkeep for the city’s floodwall system is approximately $150,000 a year.

Humphreys said the restrictions have been tightened for all cities in the RIP program.

“Ironton is no worse of a condition than other cities,” he said.