Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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Levee safety workshop strengthens ties with sponsors

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published Jan. 17, 2024
Updated: Jan. 17, 2024
Levee safety workshop strengthens ties with sponsors

Neil Cash, Levee Safety Program Manager for the Louisville District, speaks to attendees of the 2024 Levee Safety Workshop at the University of Louisville’s Shelbyhurst campus Jan. 17. The workshop, which took place Jan. 17-18, 2024, was an opportunity for Louisville District staff to discuss many levee related topics with levee sponsors, operators and maintenance personnel that work at the 56 levees in the district. This was the first time the workshop was able to be held in person since 2019.

Levee sponsors, operators and maintenance personnel were updated on the most recent information on levee operations in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District’s footprint during the Levee Safety Workshop held at the University of Louisville Shelby campus Jan. 17-18.
During the two-day event, topics including changes to rules and regulations, inspections, and levee inspections were presented by district staff. 
Ryan Jeffries, Chief of the Geotechnical Branch for the Louisville District, said the workshops provide an opportunity to not only share information, but to also listen.

“The purpose for having this meeting every other year or so is just to provide some updates on where we are with the evolution of the levee safety program and to have partnering opportunities to come together and talk about issues that are near and dear to those who are out there maintaining and operating these levee systems,” he said.

Neil Cash, Levee Safety Program Manager for the Louisville District, said the workshops are essential in strengthening the partnerships with levee staff and ensuring everyone has the most up-to-date information. 

“We try to host the workshop for a variety of reasons, but overall, our goal is to educate our levee sponsors of any noteworthy changes in the levee safety program or our business processes,” he said. “It serves as a good opportunity to do a little course correction if we notice levee sponsors are misunderstanding our recommendations, inspections, or policies.  And with turnover on both sides, it also assists in maintaining competencies through informative presentations to ensure proper levee maintenance, levee integrity, and consistent messaging for public risk communication.”

Cash said the workshop allowed district personnel to cover many topics associated with levee safety and operations.

“We had several presentations informing the audience of current or forthcoming changes in the Levee Safety Program, the Section 408 Program, and the recent USACE requirement for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) accreditation.  These were very important topics to discuss in this setting as they included significant changes to the way the programs have operated in the past,” he said. “We also had a presentation regarding potential funding sources, which continues to be the main obstacle to our non-federal levee sponsors as they struggle with dwindling budgets for levee maintenance and improvements.”

This was the first in-person Levee Safety Workshop since 2019. Cash said being able to have the event in-person seems to spur more two-way communication.

“We were very excited that we could host this event in person. This week allowed for better collaboration and involvement from the levee sponsors and offered the sponsors a chance to build relationships between neighboring levee systems,” he said. “The one-on-one interactions between local sponsors and USACE personnel are too important to overlook and are just not possible in a virtual environment.  To us, the physical presence adds to our ability to build stronger partnerships.”

Cash said he feels that overall, the workshop accomplished everything he had hoped it would.

“The workshop went great and was well received.  The information provided was relevant, consistent, and had a lot of applicability to the levee sponsors. The event went smoothly from start to finish and we met our objectives. Engaging questions were asked and several levee sponsors personally thanked us for hosting the event and are looking forward to the next one,” he said. “Also, we had a few retired USACE levee safety team members in the audience and they praised us on a well-executed Levee Safety Meeting. We expect the meeting to be a topic of discussion in the future, as our levee sponsors have historically asked us when we plan to host the next one during inspections because of how much they enjoy participating in the events.”

Chick Lock

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