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Newport Floodwall Rated Unacceptable By Army Corps

A patch of land on the Newport levee system has been slowly sliding toward the Ohio River. Newport City Manager Tom Fromme and the Army Corps of Engineers say it's not a major problem. But, the entire floodwall system has other problems the Corps says need to be fixed.

A 2016 Corps inspection left the floodwall with a rating of "unacceptable." That means if there is flood damage, the federal government won't pay for damages, whether or not the levee holds, according to Corps Geotechnical Engineer Christina Neutz.

"They had a lot of encroachments that were not authorized. There was a lot of fill-in up against the levee with debris and equipment and stockpiling of different things. So, it was showing a lot of wear and lack of regard for the importance of the levee," Neutz says.

Corps' Levee Safety Program Manager Dan Frank says the Newport levee stretches 2.39 miles from Wilder to Bellevue and the problems are all along the floodwall. He says they're easily fixed. "It's an effort that predominately would be, in my opinion, relatively minor efforts in many areas to get accomplished. I wouldn't think it would be very expensive for the city to accomplish on their own."

The levee was authorized by Congress in 1938, a year after a historic flood. Construction was completed in 1951. Today, Newport is responsible for maintaining the levee.

Neutz says the city is working with the Army Corps to fix the problems. "When you don't take care of something and be proactive, then the reactions are typically lots more expensive and (there's) a lot more effort involved."