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Parsons City Council updated on flood risk assessment

May 24, 2012
By Joe Hoover - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Major C. J. Scott, of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District, spoke to the Parsons City Council about the ongoing Section 581 Flood Risk Reduction Assessment that the corps is conducting in Parsons, during Tuesday's council meeting.

The purpose of the discussion was to finalize the specific goals council had in mind for the assessment, a necessary step because funding for the project ends with the fiscal year in December.

After some deliberation, council agreed that the Phase 1 Archeological and Architectural Surveys, the Structures Inventory, the First Floor Elevations Assessment and a new gauge to monitor water levels were their highest priorities.

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Jason Myers, Parsons City administrator and treasurer, also hoped that a one-foot inundation mapping and flood warning system could be developed; however, Scott said there might not be enough time to finish it.

Because of the December deadline, Scott said he needed council to prioritize their goals, because it is likely the corps will not be able to meet all of them.

"Our unofficial motto is 'promise less, deliver more," Scott said. "I do not want to promise anything I am not sure we can deliver, and I am not sure that we will be able to complete the one-foot inundation mapping and flood warning system by the end of the fiscal year."

The idea of the new gauge to monitor water levels was introduced as a sort of compromise. Myers felt the gauge was absolutely essential and Scott believed they could fit it into their schedule, though he could not commit until he confirmed its feasibility.

While there did seem to be some disappointment that the mapping and warning system would likely not be created, council seemed satisfied with the outcome of the discussion.

The Phase 1 surveys are federally mandated preliminary projects that establish the presence, or absence, of culturally significant objects.

Scott said before governmental monies can be spent, these surveys must be conducted.

"Basically, if you're going to spend government money, you have to know what you will be cutting through."

These surveys have required the disturbance of some private property in Parsons; however, most landowners have been supportive.

Scott said that some land damage is inevitable, but the corps does its best to return the property to its original condition.

"We're going to drive heavy equipment over your property and dig a big hole, so there is going to be disturbance," he said. "However, we really do everything we can to erase our presence."

Myers, the council, and Scott all spoke admirably of the citizens who have gave permission for the surveys to be conducted on their property.

Scott also emphasized that if any artifacts are discovered, they will be returned to the land.

"We do not have funding for an archeological dig, we are only doing a survey," he said. "We will not remove any objects."

Scott also explained the purpose of the projects that the corps will complete.

The Structures Inventory, he said, identifies every building within the floodplain of a 100-year flood. It also includes inundation mapping, which depicts the approximate area that would be inundated at selected water levels, up to the level of a 100-year flood.

The First Floor Elevations Assessment builds upon the Structures Inventory, Scott explained.

"The Elevations Assessment will involve someone shooting the sill of every building in the floodplain and determining which sills are lower than the 100-year flood level," Scott said. "Essentially, it will tell you what will happen to each building that is in your floodplain."

The purpose of the assessment is multipharious. Myers said it will make city management considerably easier and it will help improve the city's preparedness for flooding.

"We have needed this for a long time," he said. "It is a very good thing for the City of Parsons."



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