What a Litttle Protection Between Friends? Corps, City Differ Over Levees Safety Standards.

Muraski.jpg
Col. Richard J. Muraski Jr.
Wow. I think Dallas Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan broke a major national story at today's meeting of the Dallas City Council Trinity River Corridor Project committee. She told the committee that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- the quasi-military agency in charge of the nation's flood control levees -- is thinking about reducing its safety standards for levees by almost 40 percent.

Before we go further, let me tell you that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers major and two PR people out in the hallway with him after the meeting all stared at me with eyes like silver dollars and swore they had never - never ever ever - heard that before.

"I have never heard that," said Col. Richard J. Muraski Jr. "That has never been shared with us."

Jordan's presentation to the committee stuck to what has been a standard line of city management since 2009 when FEMA decertified the Trinity River levee system. City staff has always told the city council that the feds want levees to be way too safe! Way too safe.

At this briefing, Jordan told the committee that the feds are probaly going to come way down on their requirements soon anyway. The technical term for what they require now is the "800-year flood" level of protection. It's technical. But Jordan said the feds are probably going to reduce that to a 500-year-level.

Eight hundred compared to 500 - that's not technical. That's arithmetic. And money! The lower standards would be way way cheaper to do.

That would be huge. It would be major news for cities all over the country struggling with levee safety issues. Muraski told me in no uncertain terms that nobody in the Corps is even thinking about such a reduction in standards.

"There is no standard to go to a 500-year flat level of protection," he said.

But after the meeting when I spoke with Jordan, she suggested she knows more about this than the good colonel. "What happens in Washington may not trickle down to the folks here," she said.

So, damn! You read it here first, America. The Corps of Engineers is dialing down -- way down! -- on national levee safety. According to Jill Jordan. Who works for the City of Dallas. I wouldn't say you can take that to the bank, but I think you could take it to a payday lender.
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Erin34
Erin34

Wow, so per Jill Jordon, she is working over the head of Col. Murasky. I knew that she would become a general.

JimS
JimS

Ellum08:The Corps is like the pool guy. He says, "Given the slope and the soil here, if you want a pool that big, we need to reinforce the walls, which is going to cost you an extra five grand." We say, "Oh, man, five grand? I don't know if we want a pool after all." He says, "You know what, you don't really to reinforce it after all." So when the pool blows out and takes our neighbor's back room down the hill with it, who was the bad guy? The pool guy? Or us? 

Sammy
Sammy

The Corps is more like a pool boy - bribe the right one and you get what you want.

Ellum08
Ellum08

Not that I am really that surprised, but I have always found it interesting that you have continually held the City completely liable for all the levee mess instead of investigating just how screwed up the Corps really is. It is hard to know how to handle something when you don't know how to handle it. I am not saying the City is completely blameless, but the Corp has shown over and over that the rules are always changing.

TimCov
TimCov

The problem is, the city is responsible for upkeep and maintenance on the levees. The city fell down on the job. The levees do have some problems that are design based. 

The reasons the rules change are:1. We are still expanding our knowledge of the world and what causes things to happen. This means that the Corps has learned what detrimentally affects levees and what doesn't as time goes by. They then change regulations to reflect this.2. Politics. Before Katrina, the Corps was willing to listen to politicians about what to sign off on. Post-Katrina (where they got a lot of the blame), they are not willing to do this. This means they have tightened up on what is allowable and what is not.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

Even if it's true, the current levees aren't up to the task of protecting us against a twenty-year flood, let alone 500. I find it difficult to believe that reducing risk from "800" to "500" is going to make all that much difference in the amount of levee repairs we need. Yet in reading the DMN this morning you'd think that all the city has to do is slap on a few superficial repairs on the system and call it a day.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Wow..talk about the sheer stupidity from Dallas City Government. Im hoping for that 800 year flood to strike sooner than later, finally washing away the idiots and the sewer trash they do business with downtown....

claytonauger
claytonauger

I take it to mean that either Kay Bailey or EBJ is ginning up some kind of rider to a spending bill that would provide Dallas with an exception.

rerun
rerun

How embarrassing for the Colonel. I'm sure Jill Jordans' comments will really help to foster the great relationship the City enjoys with the COE (NOT!).

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

I'd sure like to hear what a bird colonel says in response to somebody from downtown telling him he doesn't have a clue. 

Ed D.
Ed D.

Does she have a higher security clearance than the President, too? Nifty.

Pennywhistle
Pennywhistle

Payday lenders won't consider anything so risky as taking the promise of a CoD ACM.  Suggesting they might sullies a real business:  the CoD is certainly not a business and, in this case, not one that can keep its head above water.

RTR
RTR

Wow, so per Jill Jordon, she is working over the head of Col. Murasky. Time will tell what DC has to say about it. It will be interesting to see what happens. 

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Jill Jordan aka Mary Suhm. You figure it out.

Facebook User
Facebook User

I hope I don't live to see the next 800 year flood...

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