In attendance were Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commanding Officer Col. John Hudson, and various congressional representatives and local officials.
John Winkler, general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District outlined why these levee improvements are particularly significant.
“It’s important obviously because of what occurred in March of this year and earlier flooding events. We wanted to protect Offutt Air Force Base and Omaha’s wastewater treatment plant,” Winkler said. “There’s a lot of residential and commercial property in this area that’s protected by this levee. We just wanted to let everyone to know that hey we’re working on it and when it’s done it’s going to be a whole lot better than it was pre-flood.”
The levee system around Offutt Air Force Base was severely damaged by the spring flooding and caused nearly $1 billion in damages to the base itself.
At the beginning of September, USACE began upgrading the levee system with the ultimate goal of raising and widening existing levees.
Bret Budd, the systems restoration team chief in charge of managing the flood repair efforts, is pleased with the efforts put forth by all parties involved.
“This project has been a great example of cooperation between the Papio-Missouri River NRD, their engineers, contractors and USACE Omaha District,” Budd said. “We have been, and continue to coordinate our flood repair activities with those of the NRD’s levee improvement team to help ensure a smooth transition as we finish up our work and they begin theirs.”
The levee restoration project is expected to cost $32 million and be completed within two years. The federally mandated improvements to the levee were scheduled to begin earlier this year but were postponed by the March flooding event.