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When the levee breaks

We tend to think of levees in the context of Louisiana and the gulf states, barriers for low-lying land against high-rising water. But the western states have a lot of levees, and there are even a bunch of them in the Northwest. And it turns out that a bunch of them are in trouble.

Reaction to a Freedom of Information Act request from several news organizations, the Army Corps of Engineers has released a list of 122 levees around the country that fail in its maintnance ratings. More specifically, that means “An unacceptable maintenance rating means a levee has one or more deficient conditions that can reasonably be foreseen to prevent the project from functioning as designed. Examples of maintenance deficiencies include: animal burrows, erosion, tree growth, movement of floodwalls or faulty culvert conditions.”

Overwhelmingly, they’re in western states. California accounts for the single largest share. But Washington has a long list, concentrated between the Seattle/Bellevue area to the west and the Cascades to the east. From the looks of the Corps report, this is a serious hazard for parts of that country . . . parts of that fast-growing country.

As though that region didn’t have enough infrastructure worries.

The levee issues in Oregon and Idaho, by contrast, are much lighter. But they should give a little pause to people in the Astoria area; several waterways are noted as endangered in that area.

LIST On the list below, the two names are for the overall Corps project, and the specific segment within it.

Idaho (Walla Wall Corps office):
Ballantyne – Ballantyne; Mountain Home
Sweetwater – Sweetwater; Sweetwater

Oregon (Portland office, except Milton-Freewater):
Clatsop County Drainage District No. 1 – Blind Slough; Brownsmead
Clatsop Diking District No. 9 – Youngs River; Agriculture
Sunset Drainage District Nehalem; Agriculture
Svensen Island Diking District – Prairie Channel/Svensen; Agriculture
Milton-Freewater – Milton-Freewater; Milton-Freewater

Washington (Seattle office):
Green River Upper Russell – Upper Russell; Kent
Cedar River Getchman – Monk; Kent
Cedar River Rainbow Bend – County Road #8; Kent
Green River Monk – Getchman; Renton
Cedar River Alquist – Rainbow Bend; Renton
Cedar River Herzman – Alquist; Renton
Cedar River WPA – Herzman; Renton
Tolt River Frew – WPA; Carnation
Tolt River Hwy to Bridge – Frew; Carnation
Green River County Road #8 – Hwy to Bridge; North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Stanly Carlin – Stanly Carlin; North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Prairie Acres – Prairie Acres; North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River McConkey – McConkey; North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Reif Road – Reif Road; North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Si View – Si View; North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Bendigo Left (upper) – Bendigo Left (upper); North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Bendigo Left (lower) – Bendigo Left (lower); North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Bendigo Right (lower) – Bendigo Right (lower); North Bend
SF Snoqualmie River Bendigo Right (upper) – Bendigo Right (upper); North Bend

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