- Associated Press - Sunday, October 2, 2016

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Council Bluffs officials are working to strengthen the levees protecting the western Iowa city before homeowners are forced to pay higher premiums for flood insurance.

The Daily Nonpareil reports (http://bit.ly/2cVAA4r ) the city wants to complete the levee projects before the Federal Emergency Management Agency updates its flood maps sometime in the next several years.

Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh says the city is racing to get the levee system upgraded and certified before the flood maps are redrawn, which will likely happen in 2022 or 2023.

“We’re in a race to get it done before FEMA remaps our community,” Walsh said.

Council Bluffs is working to improve its levees because of the massive 2011 flood where water levels along the Missouri River remained high for months.

All of the city’s levees must be certified by FEMA. If they aren’t, then homeowners will have to pay significantly higher flood insurance premiums.

The good news is that the latest step in the project will be significantly cheaper than the $600,000 officials expected. The city council recently approved a $326,558 contract with Valley Corporation to address seepage problems along the river levee. Relief wells will be replaced with new ones by next March.

“We got a really good bid on it,” Walsh said. “It came in almost half of what was budgeted.”

Public Works Department Director Greg Reeder said the city is making good progress, but still has a number of levee projects that have to be completed soon.

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, http://www.nonpareilonline.com

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