The Seattle District Levee portfolio consists of 319 levee segments within 17 flood basis spanning across Washington, Idaho, and Montana. A map showing the number of levees within each flood basin is shown below with a comprehensive list of the USACE levee portfolio available on the National Levee Database.
The Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program’s goal is to minimize and avoid loss of life and property damage and emphasizes the role of levees in flood damage reduction. The objective is to identify and provide awareness of levee systems that pose an unacceptable risk, to take appropriate measures to reduce risk, and to track status of levee safety programmatic activities.
The USACE Levee Safety Program applies to all completed flood damage reduction systems, including levees, channels, and floodwalls that:
1) USACE operates and maintains;
2) Are federally authorized projects in the Inspection of Completed Works (ICW) Program;
3) Are non-Federal projects in the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP).
To date, there is no single federal agency responsible for levee oversight nationwide. In 2006, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) created its Levee Safety Program with the mission to assess the integrity and viability of levees and recommend courses of action to ensure that levee systems do not present unacceptable risks to the public, property, and environment.
Levee safety and effectively communicating risk is a shared responsibility among federal, state and private partners and provides the opportunity for individuals to make well informed public safety decisions for them and take appropriate action.
USACE roles and responsibilities with levee systems vary depending on the particular congressional authority assigned to it (e.g., Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act (PL 84-99). Following are some of the primary roles:
- Inspect and assess the reliability of the levees and floodwalls in the USACE portfolio. Information obtained from inspections of levees will be integrated into the USACE National Levee Database;
- Communicate risks to life, property and the environment to local communities (usually through non-federal sponsors) including assessment of the level and nature of the risk;
- Where significant risk to human life exists, assist communities in understanding their options for Interim Risk Reduction Measures (IRRM) to immediately lower risk of loss of life to people while a permanent solution can be found and implemented;
- Assist local communities in flood fighting, both by providing information and direct assistance;
- Develop and share state of the art approaches, tools and standards related to levee safety as a means to raise understanding of risks posed by levees as well as methods and tools to assess, communicate and address those risks.
Four Essential Levee Facts:
- Flooding will happen. All rivers, streams and lakes will flood eventually. This means that all levees will be called upon to combat floodwaters at some point.
- No levee is flood-proof. Levees reduce the risk of flooding, but no levee system can eliminate all flood risk. A levee is generally designed to control a certain amount of floodwater. If a larger flood occurs, floodwaters will flow over the levee. Flooding can also damage levees, allowing floodwaters to flow through an opening or breach.
- Risks associated with flooding vary. If you live behind a levee, you are responsible for knowing the threat you face from flooding. Don't assume someone else is watching out for you. Take responsibility.
- Actions taken now will save lives and property. There are many steps you can take, from purchasing flood insurance to developing an evacuation plan, to flood-proofing your home to reporting any problems that you see. The sooner you act, the better off you'll be when the next flood occurs. Be prepared.