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Corps talks about levee plans

By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
The Army Corps of Engineers has determined after years of study that a levee is probably the best flood prevention option for Brewton, and the Corps was in Brewton on Tuesday, July 20, to share plans with townspeople.
Among the alternatives that have been considered by the Corps are flood walls, flood proofing, clearing and snagging of the creeks, relocation and an upstream headwater retention reservoir -- but all of these options seem inferior to the construction of a levee.
At this stage, the Corps is in the midst of a feasibility study and working to determine what the cost to benefit ratio would be for a levee in Brewton. In order for the federal government to consider this project a good deal, the benefits should equal or outweigh the costs, and that ratio will determine whether the project can go forward.
Corps economists have estimated that the value of residential structures and content in the flood plain area is about $2.7 million. Far greater is the value of non-residential structures and content -- including Citation, Brewton Ironworks and T.R. Miller Mill -- at $130 million. The Corps says that without this levee project, the value of average annual damages in the flood plain area of Brewton is $3.8 million.
If everything goes according to plan, the Corps estimates it will complete the feasibility study report in late 2005. This means that the levee project could be approved by Congress in 2006, designed and engineered in 2007, and construction could be initiated in 2008. Based on similar projects, engineers think the levee could take two years to construct.
Typically, costs of a project like this are paid 65 percent from federal funds, with 35 percent paid by the sponsoring entity -- in this case, the City of Brewton.