Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program
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Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program. Jim Martell, P.G. Geologist / Engineer Levee Safety Program Manager Tulsa District Corps of Engineers. Flood Gate In Halstead Kansas. Levee Safety.

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Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program

Jim Martell, P.G.

Geologist / Engineer

Levee Safety Program Manager

Tulsa District

Corps of Engineers

Flood Gate In Halstead Kansas

Levee Safety

…is the art and science of ensuring the integrity and viability of levees such that they do not present unacceptable risks to the public, property, and the environment

West Columbus, Ohio

National levee safety program
National Levee Safety Program

  • Background:

    • USACE Flood Damage Reduction mission began with the 1917 Flood Control Act

    • Significant Role in flood activities nationwide to include the protection of life and property behind federal levee systems.

    • Hurricane Katrina and Rita devastation in 2005 brought levee safety to the forefront of public awareness

    • Findings of investigations into flood damage reduction system’s performance in New Orleans prompted the need for a comprehensive and risk-informed approach to national levee safety, including periodic assessments.

Graduated levee assessments
Graduated Levee Assessments

Robust Levee Safety Program

Routine Inspections:

Verifies O&M, More Rigorous Standards, Improved Communication, System-based, Every Year

Continuous Feedback

Periodic Inspections:

Verifies O&M, Evaluates Structure Stability,

Compares Constructed Criteria to Current

Criteria, Every 5 Years

Increasing Rigor, Effort

Periodic Assessments Periodic Inspection + Potential Failure Mode and Consequences Analysis, Every 5 Years

Risk Assessments Data Intensive, Determine Likelihood and Consequences of Failure, TBD - Every 10 Years

Levee Inspection Program

Corps Regulations/Guidance

  • 33 CFR 208.10

  • ER 500-1-1 (RIP Program)


  • Levee Owner’s Manual

  • Levee District semi-annual inspection report

  • Laptop Inspection Tool

GPS keeps track of location

Pop up menus allow Inspector to enter inspection notes

Levee Safety – Tulsa District

  • Total 231 Miles of Levees and 59 miles of Improved Channels

  • Inspection of Completed Works (ICW) Program

    • 17 Federally constructed/locally operated and maintained levee projects (207 mi.)

    • 11 Federally constructed channel projects totaling 59 mi.

  • Rehabilitation Inspection Program (RIP)

    • 3 Non-Federal (privately constructed/operated and maintained) levee projects (7 mi.)

  • Corps Owned Operated Levees

    • 8 USACE owned/operated levee projects (17 mi.) – Corps Operated and Maintained

National levee safety program current activities
National Levee Safety Program - Current Activities

  • Engineering Technical Letter (ETL) No. 1110-2-571 Guidelines for Landscape Planting and Vegetation Management at Levees, Floodwalls, Embankment Dams, and Appurtenant Structures.

    • This ETL does not establish new standards, but clarifies, and supersedes, those formerly presented in EM 1110-2-301 (Jan. 1, 2000).

  • Key Points

    • Fifteen feet is the minimally accepted vegetation free zone (VFZ) and is widely viewed as not sufficient for all projects. To date, no research exists to justify a reduction to existing standards.

    • If an existing project easement (real estate interest) allows for less than 15 feet, the VFZ shall be the maximum attainable within the existing real estate interest.

    • The ETL discusses a limited range of conditions under which a variance to vegetation standards may be granted. The variance request process is currently under revision and interim guidance is available through the HQUSACE Levee Safety Program Manager (LSPM). Public safety will not be compromised.

    • The standards in the ETL are not new, and USACE has considered them critical to flood damage reduction project reliability for decades.

    • The ETL is available at:

National levee safety program current activities2
National Levee Safety Program Current Activities

  • AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT OF 2009 – Periodic Inspections of Levees :

    • $90 Million nationwide

    • Opportunity to leverage stimulating the economy through the use of the private sector contractors to accomplish Periodic Inspections with obtaining much needed information about the levee infrastructure throughout the nation.

    • The activity will assist in aggressively advancing the Levee Safety Program toward achieving its goal of reducing flood risks and improving public safety.

    • Complete execution of activities by September 30, 2010.

    • All levees in federal levee program including inactive levees

National levee safety program current activities the levee screening tool
National Levee Safety Program Current ActivitiesThe Levee Screening Tool

  • The Levee Screening Risk Assessment (LSRA) Tool (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet) provides a preliminary assessment of the general condition and associated risks of levee segments and systems in support of the USACE Levee Safety Program.

  • Routine inspection data will be combined with a preliminary engineering assessment to indicate the ability of a levee system to perform as intended and the consequences of potential failure.

  • The LSRA determines a preliminary relative risk index that will consider routine inspection results and ratings coupled with a review and evaluation of historical performance data, as-built drawings, economic and life loss consequences, historic and current hydraulic and hydrology data, and other data. This will help determine the potential for failure and the consequences of failure.

National levee safety program current activities national levee database surveys for tulsa district
National Levee Safety Program Current ActivitiesNational Levee Database – Surveys for Tulsa District

  • Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to develop a national levee inventory to locate and document the status of levees under Federal jurisdiction. A cornerstone of this effort is the National Levee Database (NLD).

  • Contractor, PBS&J, will survey levees this summer, fall and winter in federal program to collect detailed survey information on the levee without any cost to the city/county. This survey information is being collected for the NLD and will be shared with you after it is finalized and quality assurance checks have been completed.










rehabilitation line







encroachment point

National Levee Database Model Geographic Features