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Published February 08, 2011, 10:20 PM

City Engineer Wants to Add Three Feet to Flood Levees

The Grand Forks City Engineer is worried the 60-foot levees on Belmont Road might not be effective this spring.

The Grand Forks City Engineer is worried the 60-foot levees on Belmont Road might not be effective this spring.

Getting closer to flood season, the city is starting to prepare for what could be 60 feet of water.

The levees are obviously pretty tall, but maybe not tall enough.

"We have a two-percent chance of going higher than our levees," said Al Grasser.

An outlook from the National Weather Service is predicting these high waters this spring. Grasser said the solution to this problem is a four letter word.

"We want to use clay. We're basically just adding to the top of the levees so we can extend the height," said Grasser.

Adding three extra feet could begin in the Lincoln Park area, which Grasser said is the most vulnerable. As the winter months escape us, he said the spring thaw will bring warmer weather and bigger problems.

"Once the ground starts to get soft, you really can't get on top of those with any type of equipment," Grasser said.

Getting started in March while the ground is still frosty is a big priority this year. The city has started taking bids from contracting companies to help with spring flood relief. One bid, $235,000 comes from Gowan Construction in Oslo, MN.

"The lowest bidder this year, we've worked with them at least the last two years. We're confident they can do a good job for us," said Mark Walker, Assistant City Engineer.

If severe flooding does not happen, the city has a way out of the contract. Having everything lined up months in advance is just good planning.

"That's part of the unknown. You don't really know what you're facing until you're in the midst of it," said Grasser.

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