Corps inspects levees, a shared responsibility

By Elizabeth StoeckmannJanuary 15, 2024

Levee Safety Channel Inspection
(left to right) Maj. John Walleser, geotechnical engineer, and Mike DeMars, structural engineer, inspect a flood risk management channel in Rochester, Minnesota, Aug. 31. (Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stoeckmann) VIEW ORIGINAL

West of the Twin Cities, Corps experts rate a levee system during a routine inspection to ensure communities are compliant to reduce levee failure.

Maj. John Walleser, geotechnical engineer, and Mike DeMars, structural engineer, set out to inspect a flood risk management channel located in Rochester, Minnesota.

The channel was built to help reduce the amount of flood waters in the community.

“We’re out here today to make sure that the channel is operating as it was designed and that there are no issues threatening the integrity of the structures,” Walleser said. “Whether it’s a Corps of Engineers or a non-federal entity system, we do the inspection on behalf of the community.”

As a structural engineer, DeMars says he’s look for any parts of the levee that are structural in nature such as concrete culverts, channel walls and floodwalls that may or may not need to be repaired.

“Most of the culverts, which were the majority of the structural components of this system, were in pretty good shape,” he said.

The Corps Levee Safety Program provides technical expertise and technical assistance to the community to help them make sure their system is properly maintained.

“This is important to our district and our mission because of the life safety of our community and for the community to thrive and grow, we partner up with our local sponsors and communities to make sure that they have the resources that they need,” Walleser said.

“Floods are unpredictable, we never know when they’re going to happen or what severity and maintaining these systems will keep this infrastructure in place,” he added.

When it comes to flood risk management, the St. Paul District currently manages 98 levee systems with 100 levee segments.

The district’s civil works borders follow the edges of four river basins – the Mississippi River, the Red River of the North, the Souris River and the Rainy River and covers an area of approximately 139,000 square miles.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program was created in 2006 to assess the integrity and viability of levees and to make sure that levee systems do not present unacceptable risks to the public, property and environment. The program is an integral component of a broad, national flood risk management effort that employs a system-wide approach to flood risk management and embraces shared responsibility.