Lemhi County Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture


Earlier this year the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) extended an offer to help with any damages the city incurred during this year’s high water season. The city responded with the required applications for certain specific areas of damage.

The work would take place under stream bank emergency protections as outlined in Section 14 of the 1946 Flood Control Act. Under that authority the Corps may extend protection to public facilities such as bridges, roads, public buildings, sewage treatment plants, water wells churches, hospitals and schools.

At the September 6 Salmon City Council meeting Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager and Plan Formulator Tatton Suter told the Salmon City Council that based on Section 14 guidelines the erosion damages to portions of Sacajawea Center trails could best be done by city crews working within Army Corps regulations. 

The erosion and scouring damages still occurring on Island Park, due to the redirection of river flows caused by the high water, are creating a threat to a vital segment of the city’s water delivery and discharge system and therefore constitute a very real threat to public infrastructure. 

The best way to redirect the river flows and stop the river bank erosion will be part of the feasibility study the Corps is offering. Suter said he and City Public Works Superintendent Harry Shanafelt toured the area and discussed various corrective approaches all of which council members were interested in discussing. The bottom line was, the most efficient procedure will be identified with the feasibility study which the Corps will undertake and which will include all the analysis work and assure National Environmental Policy Act compliance. Suter said the Corps acts as “the one stop shop” and would be the agency responsible for the project and for securing permits. 

As to the cost….Suter said when the USACE Northwest Division in Portland receives congressionally approved funds it will distribute the monies to the various projects in the division. He said an initial, fully federally-funded $100,000 will be used for the feasibility study to determine what needs to be done and the scope of the project. Any costs exceeding the initial $100,000 will be shared 50/50 with the city. The Design and Implementation phase comes next where the cost share is 65 percent Army Corps and 35 percent city. He explained that any city labor and equipment used on the project will be credited in the 35 percent share of the cost. 

If, for example, the project would amount to $3.5 million the city’s share would be around $1.2 million. That potential cost does not include any work-in-kind the city would contribute nor the fact the rock quarry is located nearby. Suter said that alone will drastically reduce costs.

In answer to council questions Suter said the first phase agreements will include a termination clause saying the city can quit the project at any time or negotiate for an extension or do the work in phases since by then, more will be known concerning the actual cost of the project. 

He said with its application on file the city is already in the loop as having an endangered infrastructure and, congress willing, the funding availability should be known by mid-October. In the meantime Suter will supply for council review a written, rough outline of the Corp’s process and proposal. 

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