US Army Corps of Engineers
Rock Island District Website

District Projects

Levee Safety Program

Published March 10, 2020


Through the inspection and the assessment of risk of potential nonperformance that is undertaken by the Levee Safety (LS) Program the valued investment by the People of the United States has been maintained.  Levee systems are part of our nation’s landscape and important to communities because of the benefits they provide. In the Rock Island District, in excess of $6 billion dollars of real property and more than 40,000 people live or work behind levees in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) program. 

In the historical Corps perspective, Levee Safety relies on the USACE to construct levees and sponsors to operate and maintain these structure such that risk is maintained or reduced. Traditionally this USACE program has be run with a carrot and a stick approach with levees being inspected and sponsor correcting the specific deficiencies such that the stick is avoided. With the publishing of the EC 1165-2-218 the Corps efforts are deemed better employed through the calculation and communication of risk to the sponsors. This would allow the Sponsors to decide how to manage that risk posed by their Levee. USACE funds are typically requested for annual levee inspections, and will be used to better define risk, prepare risk discussion papers and communicate that risk to levee sponsors. This will allow the sponsor to fulfil their statutory role in managing risk from flood, including floodplain management and NFIP, (Flood Insurance Program) decisions that affect their leveed areas. The majority of levees currently are over 50 years old and the Sponsor has the same or longer period of operating these levees with the hope that the sponsors can appropriately maintain the levees with minimal Corp input.  The Corp is not forsaking inspections as once every 5 years a detailed inspection will be implemented and the risk communication materials will be updated.  Should unusual conditions arise there is provision in the ER to implement special inspections and update of risk information.
Sponsors will be furnished access to USACE inspection tools such that they can perform the inspections themselves and report their concerns and request technical assistance site visits from USACE.  Compiling and record keeping will be in directly performed in the National Levee Database through uploading the sponsor generated tool results. Confidential information will be password protected, however, the risk information will be reviewed and posted by USACE such that the public can make informed assessments of their risk without allowing terrorists to exploit vulnerabilities.
While USACE has already completed approximately 109 routine inspections this FY20 representing our full complement of Federal Interest levees.  Next year these funds will be utilized for sponsor training and preparation of Risk Management summaries to inform the sponsor of their risk rather than perform USACE inspections.

Congress appropriated funds to build the levees with the assurance that the local governments would properly maintain this public investment. Congress mandated USACE and FEMA to make sure that the levees were properly operated and maintained (O&M) and that risks are properly managed. MVR spends approximately $0.9 million annually to assure that sponsors are performing their O&M. 

As of 2019, our 70-yr-old levee infrastructure continues to age as floods that test these systems seem to be occurring more frequently. MVR struggles with fully implementing the Levee Safety Act of 2007 as the district is behind in it required $30 Million/decade to fully fund the LSP has not been realized.  Funding LS directly competes with other O&M tasks for locks, dams and recreation facilities. The FY20 President’s budget has no funding for Levee Safety activities.

Additional Information

Congressional Interest

Senators: Charles Grassley (IA), Joni Ernst (IA), Richard Durbin (IL), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Tina Smith (MN), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Roy Blunt (MO), Joshua Hawley (MO), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Ron Johnson (WI)

Representatives: IA-1 (Abby Finkenauer), IA-2 (Dave Loebsack), IA-3 (Cynthia Axne), IA-4 (Steve King), IL-1 (Bobby Rush), IL-2 (Robin Kelly), IL-3 (Dan Lipinski), IL-4 (Jesus Garcia), IL-7 (Danny Davis), IL-11 (Bill Foster), IL-13 (Rodney Davis), IL-14 (Lauren Underwood),  IL-15 (John Shimkus), IL-16 (Adam Kinzinger), IL-17 (Cheri Bustos), IL-18 (Darin LaHood), MN-1 (Jim Hagedorn), MN-7 (Collin Peterson), MO-6 (Sam Graves), WI-1 (Bryan Steil), WI-2 (Mark Pocan), WI-3 (Ron Kind), WI-5 (F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.), WI-6 (Glenn Grothman) 

SI - Special Interest
National Levee Safety Act of 2007 contained in 2007 WRDA Title IX, WRRDA 2014

Summarized Project Costs

Estimated Federal Cost/10 yr period  $33,000,000 
Estimated Non-Federal Cost  $0 
Estimated Total Project Cost  continuing 
Allocations Prior to FY 2020 $16,249,000
FY 2020 Allocation  $928,000
FY 2020 Total Capability  $3,574,000


Major Work Item Current Year

FY2020: Communication of USACE levee risk screening information to sponsors. Working on training programs for sponsor inspections. Working with sponsors to communicate risk to affected populations. Routine Inspections and if funding is available Periodic Inspections.