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February 13, 2014

Levee problems abound in southern Indiana

Ever since the Bennington Levee failed, Daviess County officials have had issues ranging from funding the repairs to certification and approvals from federal agencies. It appears they are not alone. Daviess County Council members recently attended a meeting for several counties put on by the Indiana Farm Bureau and learned that levees are producing all kinds of issues in the southern part of the state.

"I was surprised by the turnout," said County Council President Jo Arthur. "It seems like all of these counties with levees are having problems, but all of them seem to be different."

One of those issues goes back to dealing with all of the federal agencies that have jurisdiction over levees. "That is an ongoing problem," said Councilman Mike Sprinkle.

"EPA will require one thing on a levee project and it will be in direct contradiction to what another agency like NCRS. or the Corps of Engineers requires. It makes me think we might have more problems in getting the Bennington Levee certified."

"I don't think the Corps will ever re-certify that levee," said Councilman Kenneth Soliday. "Once they drop the certification it is almost impossible to get it back. They will just keep coming up with more and more things to be done."

County council members say they believe that now that the levee has been repaired from its break a couple of years ago, that it is in good shape, but they want to make certain the county has a say in its future operation and maintenance. "That levee has been out there for years and the only say the county has ever had in it has been writing the check to pay for the repairs," said Soliday.

The Indiana legislature is working on a bill that could change that in the future. That bill would require levee boards to include members of the county commissioners and council. The bill has already passed the House and is pending in committee in the Senate.

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