One of three runways at Omaha's Eppley Airfield has been temporarily closed to allow crews to repair a storm drainage pipe that runs along the runway's edge.
“We had started to see some sinkage in that area along the shoulder, near or under the shoulder,” said Steve Coufal, executive director of the Omaha Airport Authority. “When we see something like that, we'll close the runway, explore what the situation is.”
Runway 18/36 was closed on Wednesday. Coufal said it is likely to reopen Tuesday.
“They have to go in and pull the water levels around the pipe down so they can excavate, remove the dirt and inspect the pipe,” he said.
The runway reopened this year after being closed for about six months to allow for the relocation of a taxiway. Coufal said the airport can get along fine with two runways, and has operated for stretches with just one.
Airport crews are monitoring 35 distressed areas around the airport, down from 91. Seepage blankets, repair work and the installation of 70 dewatering wells have reduced the number of trouble spots around the property, Coufal said.
Airport crews will continue to monitor the levee along the airport's edge every two hours, Coufal said.
The river is a little over 7 feet from the top of the south end of the airport's levee and 9.3 feet from the levee's top to the north, Coufal said.
Airport officials expect flood-fighting efforts to continue for the next couple of months, Coufal said. Even after Missouri River levels drop below the base of the levee, groundwater levels likely will stay high, he said.
Last year, Coufal said, groundwater levels remained high until November.
“We think we're going to continue to use those 70 (dewatering) wells for some time,” he said.
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