Corps Flood Protection Project Inspections Reveal Five Levees in Massachusetts Need to Be Upgraded
CONCORD, Mass., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District has determined that five federally-constructed local protection projects in Massachusetts have levees of concern. The Corps is continuing its ongoing inspection program of federally-constructed flood protection projects in New England. As part of the Corps’ nationwide Levee Safety Program, the assessments from these inspections, and any noted deficiencies, are reported to the owner/sponsor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In Massachusetts, five Local Protection Projects with levees were determined to need improvements: Lowell, Canton, Springfield, West Springfield, and Chicopee.
These Corps inspections and assessments are limited in scope and detail. There may be other deficiencies that affect the project operability. To develop a program remediation plan the city or sponsor, which operate and maintain the project, must conduct a comprehensive inspection of their project.
Lowell Local Protection Project
The Lowell Local Protection Project, located on the north bank of the Merrimack River in Lowell, is rated in fair condition. It is operated and maintained by the City of Lowell.
The flood reduction project was constructed between 1941 and 1944 and consists of two sections. The Rosemont section adjacent to Beaver Brook consists of 650 feet of earthen dike and 850 feet of concrete I-wall. There is a stoplog closure structure across Beaver Street. The Lakeview section consists of 2,700 feet of dike and 900 feet of floodwall along the Merrimack River. There are also two “spoils” dikes, one located along the south bank of Beaver Brook and another along the Merrimack River at the confluence of Beaver Brook. In addition, there is a pump station located along the highway to accommodate overland flows. The project protects 120 acres of urban land in the Lakeview Avenue and Rosemont sections of the City of Lowell against the 1936 flood of record.
Various deficiencies were noted. Significant vegetation is present along the Rosemont and Lakeview dike and floodwall sections creating insufficient vegetation buffers along the structures and insufficient vegetation controls on the structures. The condition and performance of the well points and toe drains on both dike sections are unknown. The West Street pump station is not operable and the Beaver Street pump station has been removed.
Cumulative flood control benefits for the Lowell project through Sept. 30, 2006 are nearly $1 million. “The Corps is here to assist the owners/sponsors in any way we can to ensure maximum flood protection and minimal risk to public safety,” said Col. Curtis Thalken, District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District.
Canton Local Protection Project
The Canton Local Protection Project, located along the East Branch of the Neponset River in Canton, is rated in fair condition. The project, operated and maintained by the town of Canton, was constructed in 1963 costing $274,000 and provides for the diversion of flood flows from the East Branch Neponset River around the Plymouth Rubber Company Plant. Major project components consist of a 160-foot long concrete overflow dam and a 1,600-foot long diversion channel below the dam with a rock-faced dike on the right bank and rock-faced fill on the left bank. The project provides protection for Plymouth Rubber Company, the single largest industry in the community at the time of project construction. In addition, the project protects several other commercial establishments located along Washington Street.
Various deficiencies were noted. Significant vegetation is present along and on the dike, creating insufficient vegetation buffers and controls. Significant vegetation and shoaling has established within the confines of the diversion channel reducing the hydraulic efficiency. A portion of the dike has eroded and degraded causing a loss of crest width.
Cumulative flood control benefits for the Canton project through Sept. 30, 2006 are $3.5 million. “The Corps and FEMA are working together to ensure that flood hazard maps clearly reflect the flood protection capabilities of the levees, and that the maps accurately represent the flood risks posed to those protected areas,” Thalken said.
Springfield Local Protection Project
The Springfield Local Protection Project, located along approximately five miles of the Connecticut River’s east bank in Springfield, is rated in fair condition.
The project, operated and maintained by the city of Springfield, was constructed in 1941 and consists of approximately 3,900 feet of earth dike, 11,200 feet of concrete wall, 1,600 feet of pressure conduit, and appurtenant drainage features to supplement the City system of disposal of interior drainage. The system also incorporates six pump stations previously built by the city.
Various deficiencies were noted. Significant vegetation is present along the dikes and floodwalls creating insufficient vegetation buffers along the structures and insufficient vegetation controls on the structures. Approximately 200 linear feet of floodwall north of Broad Street have been removed by the abutting developer. General and routine maintenance is required on the pump station buildings and interior equipment. Numerous concrete repairs are required on the conduit, floodwalls, and buildings.
Cumulative flood control benefits through Sept. 30, 2006 are $53.4 million — including $683,000 from the October 2005 flood.
West Springfield Local Protection Project
The West Springfield Local Protection Project is rated in fair condition. The flood control project was constructed between 1939 and 1942 and consists of 13,700 feet of dike and 2,300 feet of floodwall along the Westfield and Connecticut Rivers. In addition, there are six pumping stations, three stoplog openings, and appurtenant drainage structures and facilities. Modifications in 1982 included raising the floodwall by one foot. West Springfield operates and maintains the completed works.
Various deficiencies were noted. Significant vegetation is present along the dikes and floodwalls in several reaches creating insufficient vegetation buffers along the structures and insufficient vegetation controls on the structures, including the impervious blanket section on the riverside of the Westfield River dike. In addition, a high ground area has been removed at the upstream end of the Westfield River dike, which reduced the design freeboard elevation.
Cumulative flood control benefits for the West Springfield project through Sept. 30, 2006 are $360.2 million — including $31.1 million from the flood of October 2005.
Chicopee Local Protection Project
The Chicopee Local Protection Project, which extends along the east bank of the Connecticut River and along both banks of the Chicopee River, is rated in fair condition.
The flood protection system for Chicopee consists of about 22,200 linear feet of earth dike, 6,100 linear feet of concrete flood wall, six pumping stations, and appurtenant drainage features to supplement the city system of disposal of interior drainage. The system is located along both the Connecticut and Chicopee Rivers and was constructed between 1936 and 1942. It is operated and maintained by the City of Chicopee.
Various deficiencies were noted. Significant vegetation is present along the dikes and floodwalls, and within the confines of the Chicopee Dike impervious blanket, creating insufficient vegetation buffers along the structures and insufficient vegetation controls on the structures. General and routine maintenance is required on the dikes and floodwalls, including: repairing eroded areas of the dikes, sealing floodwall construction joints, and repairing broken, cracked, and spalled concrete surfaces. A modification of the railroad bed and tracks at the stop log structure in the Connecticut River Dike adjacent to the Broadcast Center (formerly Bertha Avenue) Pumping Station is required to facilitate simplified, quick, and secure installation of the stop log closure when necessary. The current configuration of the railroad bed, tracks, and stop log structure anchor components make it very difficult to install the stop log structure.
Cumulative flood control benefits for the Chicopee project through Sept. 30, 2006 are more than $11.8 million.
Corps inspections provide a snapshot of the general condition of the flood protection projects and highlight readily observable deficiencies. Corps inspections do not detect all deficiencies nor do they relieve the owner/sponsor of their duties and responsibilities under federal law.
To afford the owner/sponsor a reasonable amount of time to correct any noted deficiencies and establish a required maintenance project, the Corps is establishing a one time only “maintenance deficiency correction period” (MDCP) of one year. Failure to correct project maintenance deficiencies within a one- year period will result in the project being placed in an inactive status and no longer eligible for federal funding if the levee should sustain damage during a flood event.
FEMA might not recognize these projects, in their current conditions, in its revised flood maps. If so, the areas behind the dikes might be shown as unprotected. In addition, the project might no longer be eligible for federal funding under PL-84-99 should the dike incur damage during flood events.
More information about local protection projects with levees in New England is available at the Corps website http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/. Select “water resource projects” and then “flood damage reduction” and then the desired New England state.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District
CONTACT: Tim Dugan of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, +1-978-318-8264, orTimothy.J.Dugan@nae02.usace.army.mil
Web site: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/