EDWARDSVILLE — The Army Corps of Engineers' approval of a final upgrade plan for flood protection levees in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties has led the Levee Issues Alliance to reactivate the countdown clock its website after a six-month hiatus.
The website, www.stlmetroeastlevees.org, ticks off days, minutes and seconds before the $150 million project is complete. As of Wednesday, slightly more than 720 days remain before the official finish date.
The alliance's clock stopped in late July. The reason: a dispute between the Corps of Engineers and the Southwestern Illinois Flood Protection District Council, which is charged with funding and overseeing the project, over details of the upgrades' design.
But that dispute has been resolved in general terms, according to Ellen Krohne, the executive director the Leadership Council Southwest Illinois, in Edwardsville, which oversees the alliance.
But Krohne declined to say that she is fully optimistic the road ahead will be smooth, in part because of the corps' arduous approval process for future plans.
"It's very detailed and involved and takes a lot of time," Krohne said. "Right now we have to be vigilant and make sure that we keep to that schedule."
If the flood prevention council fails to meet the January 2015 deadline for completing the repairs, then levees could lose their federal accreditation. If that happens, then the Federal Emergency Management Agency could penalize American Bottoms property owners with more stringent development rules and higher insurance premiums -- the elements of economic disaster, according to Krohne.
"We can't allow that," she said.
Les Sterman, the flood control council chief engineer, agreed that the corps approval process is a slow and drawn-out. Sterman also agreed that "we're continuing to move forward, not as quickly as I would like, but we're making progress."
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at email@example.com or 618-239-2533.