With the prospects for a flood event taking place in Montevideo looking more likely with each passing day, the City of Montevideo is better prepared to withstand such an event than at anytime in the past.

With the prospects for a  flood event taking place in Montevideo looking more likely with each passing day, the City of Montevideo is better  prepared to withstand such an event than at anytime in the past. The levee system, which has been under construction since 1999, is nearly complete, and the improvements are sure to mitigate most of the effects of a moderate to major flood.

That being said, this past weekend’s heavy snowfall, along with this week’s heavy rains, have added even more moisture to the abundance of snow that has fallen across the region. It is looking increasingly likely that the levee system will be tested in the coming weeks.

Steve Jones, certified Flood Plain Manager for Public Management Group, LLC, of Monte­video, has been overseeing the city’s levee project since it began 20 years ago. Jones said: “Every flood is different, but overall, the critical period begins when the guage on the Minnesota River bridge reaches 18 to18.5 feet. At one time, the critical point was closer to 16.5 feet, but now that is considered a nuisance flood for Montevideo.

“Even though that level is still dangerous, most operations in the community can continue until the flood level reaches that 18 to 18.5 foot stage.”

Jones cited numerous positive and proactive changes the city has made since the major flooding events of 1997 and 2001. “These changes have made the city more resilient against the effects of flooding,” he said. The changes include:

•  Almost 130 homes have been removed from Smith addition and the Gravel Road area.

•  In 2001, the water plant was relocated from alongside the Chippewa river to high above the flood plain, and no longer needs to be protected.

•  The wastewater plant was fortified and protected with a higher and wider levee system, and the plant has installed a more resilient pumping station (2009 and 2012).

•  The water/sewer system in Smith Addition can now remain operational until a flood level of 18 to 18.5 feet (16 feet would have been the limit in 1997 and 2001).

•  Last year, the city completed a new storm sewer line from Smith Park to the Historical Society property which will help with internal drainage issues and allow water to be more easily pumped from inside the levee to the river.

•  The city has insured key public buildings and structures with flood insurance. The city has excellent protection in the event of a catastrophe. Also, FEMA has made it difficult to obtain federal assistance for public damage if the local government does not try to protect itself with flood insurance.

•  The city has acquired major pieces of equipment (high capacity portable pumps) along with almost 500,000 sand bags and heavy poly sheeting.

Major pieces of the levee system have been completed, including:  the Canton Avenue/Highway 7/59 levee (2009); the wastewater plant/Cenex Travel Plaza corner levee and pumping station (2009 and 2012); the Highway 212 levee raise (2012); Section 3A levee from Cenex Travel Plaza corner to Highway 212 bridge (2018); and the Parkway Drive Closure (2018).

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