Flood-control study expected to last 3 1/2 yearsAny permanent flood risk control measures for the James River are a minimum of 3 years away as a study of possible projects continues. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met with the members of the James River Joint Water Board as part of the planning for the study Wednesday in Jamestown.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Any permanent flood risk control measures for the James River are a minimum of 3 years away as a study of possible projects continues.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met with the members of the James River Joint Water Board as part of the planning for the study Wednesday in Jamestown.
The corps and Water Board are establishing the scope of work for the study. This defines what will be considered during the study, which is expected to last up to 3 1/2 years and could cost up to $2 million.
“It takes time to get results,” said Tony Roorda, chairman of the JRJWB. “The results also depend on funding.”
The cost of the study will be split with 50 percent paid by the federal government.
“We hope to sign agreements in 2012 on the scope of work,” Roorda said. “We need to approach the North Dakota Water Commission for help on the costs.”
Local costs can also be covered with in-kind payments for work done by the local governments. The JRJWB covers the six counties in North Dakota that the James River flows through. All are represented on the board.
Once the scope of work is established, the study moves to Phase 1. This step identifies existing conditions and the economic baseline of the project.
“This gives us an idea of what we can spend on the project,” said Jeff Greenwald, project manager for the corps. “This takes about a year or year and a half if there is consistent local and federal funding.”
The study estimates the cost of the project averaged over a 50-year period. It also averages the costs of flood protection and damage over the same 50-year period. The benefit-to-cost ratio must equal at least a 1-1 ratio for any project to be considered.
“The higher the benefit ratio the more competitive the project is in receiving funding,” said Greg Johnson, chief of plan formulation and project management for the corps. “A project with a 1-1 ratio can be done but the funding is likely to go to a project with a 3-1 ratio.”
Once Phase 1 is complete and a possible budget established, Phase 2 determines what kind of permanent flood control projects could be addressed.
“We could look at a number of types of projects,” Greenwald said. “There could be a combination of structural solutions like levies and dikes or channel dredging or flood-proofing the communities by relocating structures.”
Any flood risk projects are paid for with 65 percent federal money and 35 percent local. In cases where the flood risk project also offers recreational or other benefits the costs are split at 50 percent.
The continuing study hinges on the availability of both federal and local funds for the next three years. After that, additional funding would be required for actual construction.
“Consistent funding is the key to keeping this moving,” Greenwald said.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com