Ernst presses Army Corps of Engineers to fix Iowa city levee

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers immediately begin construction of the levee it designed per a signed agreement it made this summer with the City of Hamburg, Iowa, and the state.

“We are very concerned about a recent development regarding the Ditch 6 Levee in the City of Hamburg, Iowa,” almost two-thirds of which was underwater following a flood earlier this year, wrote Sen. Ernst and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in an Aug. 23 letter sent to R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Corps’ civil works division, and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, commanding general and chief of engineers for the Corps. 

Following previous floods in 2011, the Corps mandated that the Ditch 6 Levee be lowered 8 feet. When the levee was overrun this year, the Corps committed to rebuilding the levee to its original height, but to date has not done so, according to their letter.

“Community and businesses moved forward with repairs and recovery based on the Corps commitment and plan to rebuild the Ditch 6 Levee this year to the 919 foot-level,” Sen. Ernst and her colleague wrote.  “Businesses have spent close to $20 million in cleanup and repairs for reopening.” 

The Corps confirmed it had authority and the funding for its portion of rebuilding the levee and that the work would begin once the worksite was dry, the senators wrote.

However, “with high flows continuing on the river, Hamburg is a heavy rain away from being flooded again,” wrote Sens. Ernst and Grassley.  “As a result, the City of Hamburg needs to have the Ditch-6 Levee built to 919 foot-level immediately as a first line of defense to a compromised levee system, which the Corps refers to as ‘delicate’ at best.”

They added that they “expect the Corps to honor the commitment and agreement it made with the community in June 2019.”