As LRC has worked to identify funding sources to help modernize the local levee system, we discovered that the best pathway to secure federal funding for levee improvements is to partner with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on a Feasibility Study.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Feasibility Study is a formal three-year process used to identify problem areas, develop solutions to address them, and determine if there’s federal interest in investing in local infrastructure. If federal interest is identified, a report is delivered to Congress with recommendations and accompanying funding requests to complete the projects described in the report.
In mid-2018, after working with our Congressional Delegation for several years, Congress designated a Feasibility Study of our levee system focused on flood risk reduction. The USACE Feasibility Study is a formal three-year process that helps determine if there is federal interest in investing in an infrastructure system. If federal interest is identified, a report is delivered to Congress with recommendations and funding requests to complete the projects outlined in the report in order to make the infrastructure more resilient
This is a very rare and important opportunity to bring expertise and federal funds to our area, and to potentially secure federal funds to help make necessary repairs and improvements to our levees so they can meet federal safety standards and continue to reduce the risk of flooding well into the future.
The Draft Feasibility Report & Tentatively Selected Plan
On Monday, January 6, 2020, the US Army Corps of Engineers released their Draft Integrated Feasibility Report & Environmental Assessment, which includes information about the analysis they have conducted to date, the vulnerabilities that have been identified within the levee system, the potential solutions that have been considered, the final array of alternatives that have been evaluated, and the alternative that has tentatively been selected as their preferred plan.
and here are some additional resources to help digest what’s in the Corps’ draft report:
October 28, 2020 Community Update Meeting
Following the public comment period, the Corps went through a process of refining the Tentatively Selected Plan, during which further technical analysis and refinements were made as they worked with the drainage districts (as the local sponsors) to address comments received, including community concerns, to the fullest extent possible and allowable under USACE policies and federal laws.
Now that the refinement process is nearing completion, PEN 1, PEN 2, MCDD, and SDIC would like to invite you to join them for a virtual community update the evening of October 28th where the Corps will provide information on the changes that have been made since the TSP was presented in January and drainage district staff and board members will describe their decision making process in relation to the feasibility study and what comes next as they work with USACE and pursue other local efforts to meet federal safety standards and modernize the local flood safety system.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is this work being funded?
After advocating for several years, a new start feasibility study was designated by the federal government in mid-2018. The funding for this study came from a special appropriation package for the Corps to work on flood and storm damage reduction projects. Because of this special appropriation, the study is 100% federally funded and does not require any local match. It also means the Corps must focus exclusively on issues related to flood safety during this study. Although the allotted funding will go directly to the Corps, their technical evaluation, modeling, and planning will greatly benefit our local efforts, and their recommendations may result in federal funding for some of the repairs needed to our local levee system. We are working closely with the Corps throughout the process to contribute to their recommendations, integrate local priorities, and fully maximize this opportunity.
How long is this process going to take?
The Feasibility Study must be completed in three years. Feasibility, however, is just the first part of what can be a lengthy process to work to secure federal investment in local water resources infrastructure like our levees and conveyance systems. Please see the graphic below for a general outline of the Feasibility Study Process, Pre-Engineering & Design, and Construction. If the study is approved by the Chief of Engineers at the end of the feasibility phase, we anticipate it may take multiple attempts to advance the project to subsequent stages, which will require congressional authorization and appropriation.
If approved, could this process help fund all the improvements that are needed?
Although we hope this process will culminate in federal re-investment in our system, we do not expect that it will be enough to complete all the work that is needed to recertify and modernize the system. For this reason, we will continue to run our local process alongside the Corps’ study to integrate our previous efforts and goals into the feasibility study and so we can begin to plan the projects that will need to be addressed at the local level.
That being said, this is a really important opportunity to bring federal funds and expertise to the table to help make the necessary repairs and improvements to our levees. Without this opportunity, all the necessary repairs and improvements would need to be paid for by Oregonians.
To learn more about the US Army Corps Feasibility Study process, please visit the document library to the right. If you’d like more information on the study or to contact the Corps directly go to their website.
We will continue to share information related to study on our website, through social media, and via email.