Levee patrols under way
By ROBERT WHALE
Auburn Reporter News reporter
December 14, 2009 · Updated 4:29 PM
City of Auburn levee patrols started on Monday morning as city personnel began familiarizing themselves with the King County levee system on the Green River.
Small groups will undertake routine, daytime inspections of levees so they can become fully aware of current levee conditions before the water starts to rise.
The Army Corps of Engineers and King County may also be conducting independent levee monitoring and inspection.
Each patrol consists of a vehicle driver and two staff members walking behind the floodwall, and everybody is identified with City-issued clothing and identification. Patrols also might carry spotlights to inspect levees and floodwalls for seepage.
“We’ve already attended one session with the Corps of Engineers where they talked about levee failures, and now we are getting familiar with the levee system, which we will be patrolling on a periodic basis when the water gets higher,” said Bob Elwell, sewer engineer for the City of Auburn, who led a small group along the levee system near Brannan Park.
“The main thing is familiarity,” Elwell added. “And the main things to look for are tree jams under bridges, levee scour, things like that,”
If high water conditions develop, city staff and trained volunteers will perform daily inspections. And if conditions warrant, around-the-clock patrols will monitor levees and report any developing problems.
Residents should watch for any unauthorized activity in and around levees. The floodwalls aren’t built to withstand people climbing on them or vandalism, which can create a breach in the wall during a high-water event. Anybody who damages the levee could be looking at civil liability and criminal prosecution.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will review cases involving damage to the levee for prosecution as criminal felonies. Any citizen observing any unusual activity on and around the levees should call 911 immediately.
The City needs everybody’s help to maintain the levee system’s protective measures and ensure public safety.
People who live close to the levees, consider the following for safety and assistance to the patrols:
• Avoid allowing pets to roam free along the levee
• Call 253-931-4008 or 253-288-3138 to inform the City of any concerns you may have, or if seepage is observed through the levee so patrols can be aware of them for observation. If your concern is of an urgent nature, call 911.
• Observe a safe distance from the floodwall when the river is at flood stage to avoid injury from sudden intrusions of large logs and debris.Contact Auburn Reporter News reporter Robert Whale at email@example.com or 253-833-0218, ext. 5052.