Members of Save Warfleigh recently met with the City of Department of Public Works (“DPW”). DPW staff attempted to answer all our questions and we gained important information and updates. However, the information was somewhat discouraging and it only highlighted the importance of our initiative. In fact, based on the meeting, it seems the need for our action now becomes even more critical and urgent.
The City no longer seeks the most expeditious completion of the flood wall project and, instead, seeks to pursue a project that, according to the City, if feasible, will be completed at the earliest by summer of 2020.
The Illinois Street alternative would complete the project most expeditiously. Instead, the City now pursues the West Bank Alignment. Completing the West Bank Alignment entails numerous tasks and steps:
(1) The Corps must first determine if they can develop an additional contract with the City that will allow the Corps to participate in the study and construction of the West Bank Alignment. The Corps has completed the “white paper” that seeks to obtain this approval. It is not clear at this time if we will receive a copy of that document.
(2) The City must complete an initial feasibility study to determine whether a subsequent detailed feasibility study for the project is warranted. The City anticipates this study will be complete by summer 2015.
(3) If the initial feasibility study shows an in-depth study is warranted, then the City will work with the Corps (depending on the resolution of #1, above) to complete the in-depth study. This could take 18 months to 2 years.
(4) If the detailed study shows the project passes certain benefit cost tests, then, at the very earliest, the project could be completed by summer 2020.
(5) The City has neither developed nor considered what alternative it would pursue should the initial feasibility study show the West Bank Alignment is not feasible.
(6) The City indicated the major opponents of the Illinois Street Alternative include Citizen’s Energy Group, Butler University and Butler-Tarkington residents. The City also indicates proponents of the West Bank Alignment indicate other alternatives fail to protect the City’s water supply; however, this directly conflicts with the information the City provides on its website:
(1) The City indicated that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) Levee Safety Officer stated the levee will not be certified unless the trees are removed.
(2) The City explained that tree removal is part of the process that will result in partial certification of the levee. Partial certification will only remove a very small part of Broad Ripple from the 100-year flood plain into the 500-year flood plain.
(3) The DPW indicated once partial certification is complete, then control and maintenance of the levee passes from the USACE to the City.
(4) The DPW flood wall project manager could not identify any immediate benefit to Warfleigh from the tree removal.
(5) The DPW project manager could not provide information regarding the USACE compliance with the Water Resource Reform and Development Act of 2014 (“WRRDA”) See:
However, the DPW project manager did claim the DPW has sent a request to the USACE to comment on its compliance with the WRRDA. It is not clear whether we will receive from the DPW a copy of the USACE’s comments.
(6) Save Warfleigh asked DPW staff for assistance in contacting the USACE regarding WRRDA compliance and other pertinent project information. DPW staff recommended we visit the USACE website and find contact information for the USACE Louisville District Commander, Public Information Officer and/or Levee Safety Officer.
Based on the above, it appears our actions now are more critical and urgent. The City has put the interests of every project stakeholder that does not live in the flood plain before the interests of those of us who actually live in the flood plain. It is astounding that our local, state and federal elected representatives can allow our lives and property to remain at risk for such an extended period of time, while at the same time exposing us to severe financial hardship.