USACE Funds $190M WV Flood Control Project
Late last month, U.S. senators from West Virginia announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is sending $190.7 million in funding to the Lower Mud River Flood Risk Management Project in Milton, West Virginia.
The announcement was made on Feb. 27 in separate statements from U.S. Senators Shelley Moore-Capito, a Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee; and Joe Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The $190.7 million will go toward constructing a levee and other measures to help ensure the long-term safety and prosperity of employers, workers and residents in the Milton area.
“I am thrilled the Army Corps has committed $190.7 million to complete the Milton floodwall project. This is 30 years in the making,” said Manchin in his statement.
Local Flood History
According to the USACE, Milton has a history of flooding dating back to the early 1900s. Several large record flood events have caused public safety issues and economic damage over the years, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) first recommended flood protections for the watershed in 1993, primarily focused on urban flooding in and around Milton. The 1996 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) then transferred the study to the USACE.
Today, the potential for flooding of the river threatens more than 600 residential, commercial and public structures, as well as critical infrastructure and personal property, according to reports.
“Milton has an extensive history of severe flooding that puts lives and livelihoods at risk in the community. Just last year, flooding took a man’s life in Milton,” said Manchin in his statement.
According to the USACE, the current project is designed to significantly reduce flood risk for most of the Milton area by constructing a levee to an elevation that would have only a 0.4% annual chance of exceedance, which is the flood level that is expected to occur about every 250 years.
As part of this project, the USACE will reportedly construct an 8,300-foot-long (about 1.5 miles long) earthen levee along the Lower Mud River, providing flood risk reduction and management to the residences and businesses of Milton. The levee will be an average height of 19 feet, with its highest point reaching 26 feet.
The project will begin in east Milton and extend approximately 2,000 feet to banks of the Mud River, and then extend to the Bill Blenko Drive bridge, where it will continue for approximately 2,000 feet to Newmans Branch and then along the river to high ground near the embankment of Abbot Street, about 500 feet south of U.S. Route 60. The project will also include a 33-foot-wide gate closure for use during high flood events, as well as two pump stations.
The project has reportedly been in the works for years, with its initial feasibility study being approved by the USACE in November of 2019. In January of 2020, the USACE executed a Project Partnership Agreement with the City of Milton and the State of West Virginia, which established a Federal and non-Federal partnership that will fund the design, construction and future operations and maintenance of the project.
Then, in December of 2022, Capito and the EPW Committee crafted and signed into law the 2022 Water Resources Development Act, which included a provision that adjusted the cost share for the Lower Mud River project from 65% Federal and 35% non-Federal to 90% Federal and 10% non-Federal.
“With recent flooding in the area, we were reminded of why the Lower Mud River flood control project is needed, and it’s exactly why I’ve prioritized funding for it for the past several years,” said Capito.
“The Lower Mud River Flood Risk Management Project will bolster flood protection by constructing a new levee and river channel, which will also move much of the town out of the flood plain, helping spur economic development and changing this flood plain from a 27-year flood plain to a 250-year one,” added Manchin.
“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I fought to secure this funding and I will continue to ensure our communities have the resources they need to thrive.”
According to the USACE, construction on the project is slated to begin later this year. The USACE also says that it is working with the City of Milton to schedule upcoming informational meetings that will be open to the public, where USACE representatives will be available to discuss the project, answer questions and listen to any concerns.