A levee improvement project to save Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., from future flooding is underway, the Omaha World-Herald reported last week.
The $32 million project, initiated in a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday, has been planned for 10 years and will raise and widen two levees protecting Offutt as well as the Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant serving Omaha, Neb., according to the report.
Sarpy County, Neb., the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (NRD) and the cities of Omaha and Bellevue will fund it, the report said.
“This base has strategic importance for our country,” Rep. Don Bacon (R) said at the event. “This levee is a linchpin. It’s the heart of rebuilding, making sure we can safeguard this (base) for decades to come.”
The levees are from the 1970s and ’80s, and after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina caused levee failures killing hundreds in New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers studied its Mississippi and Missouri River levees. They were insufficient and DOD directed the NRD to raise and widen the levees without offering funding. The project involves building an embankment on the side of each levee away from the river, making it higher, wider and flatter, the report said.
The approval process took five years and the NRD led efforts gather funds, acquiring $13.7 million from Nebraska and Bellevue, Omaha and Sarpy County each contributed $3 million.
“By raising the levees one to three feet, and widening them two to four feet, we’ll be able to protect this resource,” said Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Photo credit: Steve Liewer/The World-Herald