According to the most recent information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Drought Monitor, released on March 21, most of Chippewa County falls under the extreme drought category, which is defined by "major crop/pasture losses, widespread water shortages or restrictions," according to the drought monitor.
Despite the drought, there is still the possibility that southwestern Minnesota will see flood conditions. That possibility exists in Montevideo as well, though it will be heavily mitigated due to ongoing levee reconstruction projects.
Numbers released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra-tion (NOAA) suggest that there is a fair chance of waters reaching flood levels in Montevideo. To be more precise, there is a 35 percent chance waters will reach 14 feet, which is considered minor flooding. Despite 14 feet being pegged as a minor flood level, Montevideo City Manager Steve Jones, a certified flood plain manager, said it wouldn't cause too much trouble.
"Almost every year we reach (14 feet). Only in a few isolated areas does that have any adverse effect," Jones said. "It's not likely we'll have a major flood event, but we are prepared. It depends on melt and rainfall, but the most recent data shows our chances of (a major flood event) happening are at about 10 percent."
Jones said that for the most part, the Montevideo levee system would be able to hold back high flood levels, and sand bagging wouldn't be necessary in most places.
"Except for the old levee that hasn't been rebuilt (behind Trailways), the new levees protect us up to about 24 feet," Jones said. "At 18 feet we would start having concerns for the 1969 levee."
Speaking of the old 1969 levee, last Wednesday, city staff recently visited the capitol to testify before the Senate Finance Committee Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division. Staff testified about the need for $3.5 million to finish phase 3 of a 15-year flood mitigation project in Montevideo. Phase one of the project rebuilt and improved the levee along
Highway 7 near city hall. Phase two raised the levee near the water treatment plant and raised Highway 212. Phase three would finish the long-term goal of protecting Montevideo from flooding by raising the 1969 levee.
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