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Kent City Council approves Green River levee project

Kent city officials have several projects planned over the next few years to upgrade Green River levees to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards. - File Photo, Kent Reporter
Kent city officials have several projects planned over the next few years to upgrade Green River levees to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards.
— image credit: File Photo, Kent Reporter

The Kent City Council approved a $796,000 contract Tuesday night with Kent-based Scarsella Brothers, Inc., to construct secondary levees at Horseshoe Bend along the Green River.

The work is one of the city's full-lineup of levee projects along 12 miles of the river in an effort to improve flood protection as well as receive levee certification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Levee certification by FEMA would keep flood insurance rates lower, remove some flood insurance requirements for property owners as well as allow for more development.

"We're working on finalizing four more (levees) to be certified by FEMA," said Mike Mactutis, city environmental engineering manager in a phone interview. "We've turned in three on the Horseshoe Bend, Foster Park and Hawley Road levees. The rest of the four will take us to South 180th Street and each section will need construction to bring us to certifiable standards."

Up to standards means the levees need to protect the Kent Valley from the 1 percent annual chance flood event, also known as the 100-year flood, that FEMA uses to determine special flood hazard areas. The flood event is not a flood that happens once every 100 years but rather a flood event that has a 1 percent chance of occurring ever year, according to FEMA.

So far, the agency has yet to accredit any of the levees as the reviews can take up to a year or longer.

The Horseshoe Bend levee sits along the river at the south end of the city, south of South 259th Street and on the east and west sides of Central Avenue. The levee features four main sections.

Scarsella Brothers will soon start work to construct secondary levees on the east and west sides of Horseshoe Bend in order to work towards levee certification. The work is expected to be completed this fall before the winter flood season.

"With the sharper bends in the river on the east and west sides you get a lot of water pushing on them," said Mactutis about the levee which will be stabilized with the addition of the secondary levees.

The city will pay for the project out of the $10 million grant it received in 2009 from the state Department of Ecology to help fund repairs to the Horseshoe Bend levee. About half of that grant money still remains, Mactutis said.

The city bought three single-family homes and a small business that will be demolished to clear property for the Horseshoe Bend levee work.

"They all sold willingly," Mactutis said.

Kent also received about another $4 million this year from the state to help fund projects at the Hawley Road levee between Highway 167 and the West Valley Highway and the Boeing levee that stretches from South 212th Street to South 200th Street.

"We are very happy with that funding," Mactutis said. "It's been very helpful."

The city also works with the King County Flood Control District as a funding partner for levee work.

Kent officials have been busy this year hiring consultants to analyze levees to see what work needs to be done and then hiring companies to construct the levee projects. City officials put aside funds in the 2011 budget from the storm water drainage utility fee to pay for the consultants. City revenue from the storm water fund comes from residential customers who pay a flat rate of $10.06 per month and from commercial storm drainage fees that vary based on property size, percentage of impervious surface and the basin in which the property is located.

A contract is expected to go out this fall to a construction company to begin work on the Hawley Road levee. The cost of the project is estimated at $500,000.

Other levee projects with construction expected to start in 2012 or 2013 will include improvements from State Route 516 to South 231st Street, also known as The Lakes levee after the nearby housing development; South 231st Street to South 212th Street, also known as the Russell Road levees; South 212th Street to South 200th Street, also known as the Boeing levee after the nearby plant; and South 200th Street to the city limits at South 180th Street, also known as the Briscoe and Desimone levees.

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