USACE Levee Safety Portfolio Report Publication

Organizations Interested in Levee Safety,

I am pleased to present to you the first summary report of the flood risks and benefits associated with levees that are within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Levee Safety Program.  The report is on the USACE Levee Safety Program website available for download at https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usace.army.mil%2FMissions%2FCivil-Works%2FLevee-Safety-Program%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7C80e6136dae174f019bd008d5ca2f9890%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435
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Please share this information with others who are interested in the USACE Levee Safety program.

As you know, we have been working since 2006 to establish a comprehensive inventory, inspection and risk assessment of all levees in the portfolio.   We anticipate that we will have completed the first round of risk assessments of all levees in the portfolio in 2019.  This initial step will assist us in further identifying and reducing risk in the communities where our levees provide benefits.

In 2006, USACE began the task of developing a comprehensive inventory of the nation’s levees and, within our traditional program, inspecting and conducting risk assessments. We are in the process of sharing risk assessment information with our non-federal sponsors and communities as well as using that information to guide activities within the USACE Levee Safety Program.

Based on an assessment of nearly 2,000 levee systems, this report looks at flood risks and benefits at a portfolio level. We conducted this review to better understand the relative importance of factors driving the risks in order that we can inform decisions when managing a diverse portfolio of levees. Information in this report is already helping us guide decision making in areas such as research, policy, training, analytical methodology, and governance approaches. This report is intended to bring facts to the table and provide a starting point for conversations at all levels. We hope that you will use it to initiate conversations at all levels of governance.

Along the way, we have uncovered facts about Corps levee systems that remind us of the importance of understanding benefits associated with levees: they reduce flooding risks to over 11 million Americans and $1.3 trillion dollars of the economy, including over 300 colleges and universities, over 30 sports venues, strategic national industries, and key governmental offices at all levels. The data also shows that these systems are integral with society, with about a mile of Corps levees for every McDonald’s restaurant in the United States.

We will update this report periodically. This first report will serve as a baseline for future analysis and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our risk management efforts. It is important to note, however, that Corps levees represent only a fraction of the levees in the nation – the remainder are managed by other federal, state, tribal, regional, and local entities. As we continue to conduct a National Levee Inventory and Review on levees outside the Corps traditional authorities, we will develop a more comprehensive understanding of all of the nation’s levees.

Managing risks associated with levees in the United States will require diligence and cooperation among all levels of government, the private sector, and individuals. To be successful in the face of increasing flood hazard and projections of increasing population in flood prone areas, we must all begin to think and act like risk managers.

We hope this report will assist you in better understanding our program and will answer any questions you might have.

Sincerely,

Eric

Eric Halpin, PE
Deputy Dam and Levee Safety Officer
Chief, Dam and Levee Engineering Branch
Headquarters, US Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street NW, Office 3E65
Washington, DC 20314-1000