Corps Engineers want to
by Associated Press
Agency wants to aid shipping, avoid overflow during flood season
LEWISTON -- As part of its effort to maintain the shipping channel on the Snake and Clearwater rivers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to raise a portion of the city levee by three feet.
Doing so would ensure the levee would hold back flood waters even during periods of high runoff, said Jack Sands, project manager for the corps' dredging program.
The agency held a Thursday public meeting in Lewiston to explain its 20-year plan to maintain the channel and dispose of the sediment dredged up. The draft is expected to be finished by July.
Dredging in the Lower Granite Pool is to begin next winter. The draft covers the Snake River from the Port of Lewiston on the Clearwater to McNary Dam on the Columbia.
But the channel between Lower Granite Dam and Lewiston has the most urgent dredging need, Walla Walla District Commander Lt. Col. Richard Wagenaar said.
"This is the first dam on the system, and that is where the sediment just wants to fall out," he said.
The goal is to maintain a 14-foot-deep and 250-foot-wide navigation channel on the Snake and Clearwater rivers, as well as access to boat ramps and wildlife habitat areas.
The growing sediment at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater could cause the levee to be swamped during floods, Sands said.
But water quality and salmon habitat concerns have made it very difficult to dredge outside of the shipping channel. So corps officials want to raise the levee instead.
City Manager Jan Vassar expressed concern the corps intends to begin the levee work in 2005, just as expected hordes of tourists arrive for the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
"We are expecting our greatest influx of visitors then," she said. "That is the worst possible time."
Wagenaar said planning the levee project would begin in 2005, but work would wait until 2007 or 2008.
The dredging would occur during a so-called "fish window" from Dec. 15 to March 31, when few imperiled salmon and steelhead are present in the lower Snake River.
The plan is open to public comment until Jan. 7.
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