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Officials in Granite Falls debate upgrade to levee system

The city of Granite Falls is planning to start work on improving its main flood levee in the area behind Richter Field and the city shop and fire hall. If the river were to rise over the levee it would pour toward the residential area in the background and as far as the water tower. More than 200 homes could be affected. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

GRANITE FALLS -- Work could begin in late summer or early autumn on upgrading a portion of the flood levee in Granite Falls.

City Manager Bill Lavin said City Council members on Monday instructed City Engineer Dave Berryman, of Rodeberg and Berryman and Associates, to develop bid specifications for the first phase of proposed levee work.

The action came after council members learned that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was allocating $400,000 to the city for flood mitigation work. Along with funds already available, the city is planning an estimated $766,000 worth of work.

The initial work will be focused on the levee behind Richter Field. The levee there protects dozens of homes and commercial properties.

It will require raising a 350-foot-long portion of the earthen levee and adding a retaining wall atop it.

Council members also instructed the engineer to develop plans for adding a pumping station in the downtown area.

The city engineer completed a study earlier this year estimating that it will cost $2.7 million to upgrade the levee and obtain its certification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for protection against a 1 percent flood event, or more commonly called a 100-year flood event.

Lavin said the city is eager to see the entire levee upgraded, and will continue efforts to obtain state and federal funds toward the project.

The plans by the engineer allow for the levee work to be completed in two phases.

One phase of work calls for raising a 4,850-foot length of the earthen levee by 1.5 to 3 feet.

The other phase of work calls for upgrades to the area by the City Shop/Fire Hall and the baseball field, where there is not space for the slopes needed for an earthen levee.

It will be necessary to drive connected sheets of metal into the earthen levee behind the city shop area. A concrete floodwall would be built atop this sheet pile-strengthened levee for a length of 550 feet.