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Montevideo City Council approves raising levees

MONTEVIDEO -- City Council members in Montevideo are preparing the city for floodwaters expected to reach or exceed last year's levels.

Council members took action at their meeting Monday to authorize Mayor Debra Lee Fader and City Manager Steve Jones to sign contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contractors for temporary levee work.

The city is planning to raise the U.S. Highway 212 levee by 4 to 5 feet and the 1969 dike by 2 to 3 feet, according to City Manager Steve Jones.

Work on the temporary levee improvements is expected to start March 21.

The most recent flood forecast by the National Weather Service advises that there is a 90 percent probability for the Minnesota River to reach the 20-foot level in Montevideo; a 50 percent chance of reaching 22 feet; and a 10 percent chance of hitting 23.5 feet, just below the level recorded in the catastrophic flood of 1997.

The U.S. Highway 212 levee is built to a 20-foot level.

The city and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in the midst of a $10.3 million project to permanently upgrade the city's levee system. It calls for raising much of the existing levee and building 2,400 feet of new levee.

A portion of U.S. Highway 212 serves as a levee in Montevideo.

The work to upgrade the city's levee system includes permanently raising the highway roadbed in the area of Flynn's Salvage to protect against a 100-year flood event.

Next year, the city expects to permanently raise the 1969 dike portion of the levee as well, which is located behind Trailways, near the wastewater treatment plant.

In other business, council members reviewed annual reports. Among the highlights:

- The public works report by Director Greg Schwaegerl noted that flood protection efforts were responsible for a large share of department activities in 2010 and are expected to be so again in 2011.

- The airport report indicated that recreational flying has shown a decline since Sept. 11, 2001, but commercial use of the airport has steadily grown.

A recent report filed for the Minnesota Department of Transportation indicated that the airport is responsible for $1 million worth of economic activity and indirectly supports the equivalent of 12 full-time jobs in the community.

Tom Cherveny

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

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