Sunday, January 13, 2008

L'Ville levees graded 'minimally acceptable'

For the second straight year Louisville's flood system is one grade above failure. According to an article in the C-J, "Trees threatening levees", the Army Corps of Engineers cited "too many trees, some of them historic, next to levees and flood walls...[t]ree roots can suck rising floodwaters underneath levees and walls, softening the soil, making them more likely to fall over and cause damage or a breach."

Hat tip to the C-J for reporting this.

One would think less than three years after New Orleans was engulfed, we'd have greater alarm. Unfortunately the length of the American memory is two weeks. I also noticed that the article mentions a lack of oversight:

"The federal agency is particularly concerned that trees have been allowed to grow close to the wall. Corps officials say they've had a rule for years that requires removal of all vegetation within 15 feet of the base of a flood wall or the bottom of a levee. The roots of larger trees have to be removed and the soil compacted."

I highlighted that point because a little later the article mentions that the head of the Olmsted Conservancy, Mimi Zinniel, said public safety comes first but she's concerned for the trees.

Concerned for the trees?!? I hope conservation was not a reason for leaving those trees up. More than likely it was the usual government incompetence. Still, without a major stadium my cynicism tells me that Louisvillians incapable of escaping a devastating flood ought to reserve their "refugee" seat in Freedom Hall.

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