UPDATE: Corps of Engineers discusses inspections of Parkersburg floodwall

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) Update: 2/28/2018

Inspectors from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acknowledge the city gets an "unacceptable" rating for the city's floodwall.

But they add it has nothing to do with the floodwall's condition.

Two inspectors we spoke to Wednesday said the floodwall has regular, and routine, inspections to determine Parkersburg's eligibility for the federal flood insurance program.

The "unacceptable" rating, they say, means the city has not qualified for that funding.

They add the city is working to address issues the Corps of Engineers has identified-including a long-term problem with underground pipes.

"We require those inspections be completed once every five years," said Program Manager Kevin Butler, "and the city has recently demonstrated a willingness and understanding to complete those pipe inspections."

"Parkersburg is really one project that is in very good condition," added Andy Cremeans, team leader for the corps' levee safety program. "I don't recall any real concerning issues with the floodwall."

Butler and Cremeans say the city and its Public Works Director, Justin Smith, have worked well with federal inspectors. "The city has been a good, responsible levee (floodwall) owner," Cremeans added.

The most recent floodwall inspection took place last September, with a follow-up in October.

The corps' "Long-term Flood Risk Management" program began in 2006.


UPDATE: 02/26/2018 5 P.M.

On Friday, we told you about a 2015 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report giving the Parkersburg floodwall a rate of "unacceptable."

Information in that story was unclear about what the ratings meant.

That inspection found two main items the city needed to address so it could qualify for maintenance program funding through the Army Corps of Engineers. That's why the floodwall received an "unacceptable" rating.

One of those concerns, the closure of the Murdoch Avenue gate, has already been addressed.

The second issue involves visually inspecting underwater pipes, which still needs to be done.

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce says the work will require hiring a contractor and using a dive team and will cost in the neighborhood of $300,000.

As of now, Joyce says the floodwall’s pump stations are functioning property, which is an indication that there are no problems with the pipes.

He added that the nature of the inspection and the report is to determine the city's eligibility for rehabilitation and inspection program funding through the Corps of Engineers. It’s not an inspection that's directly related to the functionality or integrity regarding the floodwall's ability to protect the community.

"And I think the city should do everything it can to become eligible for that,” Joyce says. “If nothing else, should there be a major failure in the floodwall, right now, we would have to fix it on our own dime, instead of the federal Corps of Engineers assisting in that process."

Joyce says the city’s goal is to plan to inspect the pipe during the fiscal 2019 budget year, meaning it would be done in time for the Corps of Engineers next report. Once that’s finished, he expects the rating to be upgraded and the city to be eligible for the funding program.


ORIGINAL STORY

On Friday, we told you about a 2015 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report giving the Parkersburg flood wall a rate of "unacceptable."

Information in that story was unclear about what the ratings meant.

That inspection found two main items the city needed to address so it could qualify for maintenance program funding through the Army Corps of Engineers. Those items are why the flood wall received an "unacceptable" rating.

One of those, the closure of the Murdoch Avenue gate, has already been addressed.

The second involves visually inspecting underwater pipes, which still needs to be done.

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce says that work will required hiring a contractor and using a dive team and will cost in the neighborhood of $300,000.

As of now, Joyce says there have been no problems with the pipes.

He added that the nature of the inspection and the report is to determine the city's eligibility for rehabilitation and inspection program funding through the Corps of Engineers. It’s not an inspection that's directly related to the functionality or integrity regarding the floodwall's ability to protect the community.

"And I think the city should do everything it can to become eligible for that,” Joyce says. “If nothing else, should there be a major failure in the flood wall, right now, we would have to fix it on our own dime, instead of the federal Corps of Engineers assisting in that process."

Joyce says the city’s goal is to plan to inspect the pipe during the fiscal 2019 budget year, meaning it would be done in time for the Corps of Engineers next report. Once that’s finished, he expects the rating to be upgraded and the city to be eligible for the funding program.

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce furthered explained the floodwall's rating.

He says there's work needed on flood wall, but that it's not directly related to the floodwall's function and integrity.

Because of the rating, the city is disqualified from federal funding that would go toward major rehabilitation or repairs to the flood wall system.


Through floods and high water events of all kinds, Parkersburg's massive flood wall has protected the city for decades.

Every two or three years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspects the flood wall structure and its support system.

A series of recent government inspections have found the flood wall overall to be "unacceptable". Those inspections reports have also recommended maintenance the city should do to keep it structurally sound.

"There's nothing unacceptable about the functionality of the flood wall to do its intended purpose," Mayor Tom Joyce said Friday, "which is to keep to flood zone from flooding. It's obviously done its job in the past seven days, and it looks like it's going to have to go back to work pretty hard in the next few days."

The mayor was referring to flooding expected through early next week.

As recommended in the Corps of Engineers' 2015 report, the city made repairs to the Murdoch Avenue section of the flood wall.

According to a letter sent the city at that time, an "unacceptable" rating indicates there are one or more items that may prevent the flood wall system from performing as intended.

The report does address infrastructure needs in areas its workers cannot reach. The mayor says the city will have to hire an outside firm to address those problems.



 
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