Monday, November 24, 2014
   
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Options to diminish flooding shared

Council asks U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to submit proposal.

Gothenburg City Council members learned how the city might keep flooding at bay when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came to town.

During a council retreat last Wednesday, corps officials discussed how the city might protect against floods through such measures as levees, floodway structures and more.

City administrator Bruce Clymer said a change in the city floodplain in 2010 is an issue.

“It would be wonderful to get the community out of the floodplain designation,” Clymer said, noting that floodplain insurance and making structures more floodproof costs money.

Whether or not the city can make that happen is why the corps is involved, he said.

The city signed an agreement with the corps in 2011 to review flooding and floodplain issues which officials presented.

Corps officials said the south side of the east-bound lane of Interstate 80 helps protect property north of the federal highway from flooding from the Platte River.

They also said the north channel of the Platte River poses the biggest threat of flooding.

To alleviate flooding, officials said a structure to control floodwaters on the north channel under the I-80 bridge just west of Gothenburg could be built.

Another option, they said, would be for the Cozad Ditch Company to widen a gate about a half mile east of Highway 47.

Cozad Ditch, which has partnered with the Central Platte Resources District to manage the canal, provides water for summer irrigation and also sells it to the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.

Over the past few months, debris has been cleaned from the irrigation canal to increase flow and a gate is under reconstruction to divert flow from the Platte River into the Cozad Canal.

Flooding could also present problems in the newest industrial site southeast of town that borders the north channel of the Platte.

Parts of the site are in the 100- and 500-year floodplain.

Corps officials learned that during big rain events, such as in the spring of 2010, irrigation companies have helped pull water away from the city through their canals.

At the end of the meeting, the council asked the corps to provide a proposal for a scope of services that looks at flood control options.

A Central Platte Natural Resources District official at the meeting said his board might be willing to help with flood reduction plan costs.

Some of the findings included in a report shared by the corps were that:

Gothenburg’s climate is sub-humid and continental with cold winters and hot summers and an mean annual rainfall of 22.4 inches

the highest precipitation is usually in May and June

the number of natural disasters within the county (10) is near the national average of 12

historical floods occurred on the Platte River in June 1935, May 1942, June 1947, June 1965, June 1971, May 1973, May 1980, June 1983 and June 1984. Massive flooding in Colorado in September of 2013 also caused high stages along the Platte River near Gothenburg.

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