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Montevideo, Minn., flood work recognized nationally

A Minnesota Department of Transportation plow removes debris from a flooded portion of U.S. Highway 212 on the east side of Montevideo in April 2011. Work to raise the Highway 212 levee on the east side was completed last year as part of the second phase of a three-phase project the city is seeking funds to complete. Tribune file photo

MONTEVIDEO -- More than a decade of work by the city of Montevideo to reduce the risk of harm from flooding has brought national attention to the city.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers has awarded the city of Montevideo the National 2013 James Lee Witt Local Award for Excellence in Floodplain Management, the city learned this week.

Greg Schwaegerl, public works director for the city, is expected to accept the award June 13 in Hartford, Conn.

The association promotes efforts to reduce flood damage while also encouraging the preservation of natural and cultural resources in floodplain areas.

Montevideo's ongoing flood mitigation efforts have focused on removing property from flood vulnerable areas, protecting infrastructure, and permanently ending the need for costly, disaster interventions.

The attention the award brings to the city comes at an important time. The city is seeking $3.5 million in funding from the state Legislature to complete a major levee project, with an estimated total cost of $14 million, according to information from the city.

The city completed the first phase of the project, at a cost of $2 million, in 2009. Last year, it completed the second phase, at a cost of nearly $8 million, raising U.S. Highway 212 and rebuiling the levee protecting the wastewater treatment plant and nearby properties.

The city needs an estimated $3.5 million to rebuild the portion of the levee system built in 1969. There are separate bills in both the House and Senate seeking an appropriation to allow the work in 2014.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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