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July 15, 2014

Indiana city facing $2M Wabash River levee repairs

VINCENNES (AP) — A southwestern Indiana city will need to spend more than $2 million to repair its Wabash River flood levees, although that is much less than officials previously projected.

Vincennes officials say the repairs are needed before the levees can be recertified with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That certification is needed to prevent some residents from having to follow strict building codes or buy costly flood insurance, the Vincennes Sun-Commercial reported.

Kirk Bouchie, general manager of Vincennes Water Utilities, told City Council members Monday that some $4 million has been spent on recent levee projects, with the city needing to come up with an estimated $2.3 million to finish the repairs.

City officials had projected a few years ago that it could cost $30 million to bring the levees up to federal standards.

Hunter Pinnell, the city’s levee superintendent, said much of the cost reduction comes from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declaration that changes made to the Wabash River’s flow have reduced flooding levels since the levees were built more than 50 years ago.

Council Vice President Scott Brown said the new estimates were encouraging for the 18,000-person city about 40 miles north of Evansville.

“That’s manageable,” he said. “We can work with that.”

Much of the recent levee work has been paid for from state grants and a local stormwater fee that generates about $600,000 a year.

“I think this has all turned out very well for the city,” Mayor Joe Yochum said. “There’s been so much work put into this already. I realize there are still some unknowns that we’ll have to deal with, but we’ll figure those out as we move forward.”

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