Offutt flooding

The end of the Offutt Air Force Base runway under floodwater on March 17, 2019. 

Now that nearly all the most critically damaged levees on the Missouri River — all on the Iowa side — have been repaired, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making its first major repair on the Nebraska side.

This week, the corps hopes to award a contract to repair the damaged levees built to protect Offutt Air Force Base, the Omaha metro area’s primary sewage treatment plant and other infrastructure north of the juncture of the Platte and Missouri Rivers. Two levees totaling 18.3 miles are involved.

Historic flooding occurred this spring — damage in Nebraska is believed to be the costliest on record — when the Missouri River and its tributaries surged out of their banks following a storm that unleashed a torrent of rain and snowmelt.

If this contract is awarded as planned, work should begin in mid-August and be completed two to three months later, said Matt Krajewski, readiness branch chief for the Omaha district of the corps. The cost of the work won’t be known until the bids are reviewed and the contract approved.

The most serious damage to one of those levees, the 8.63-mile levee known as R613, already has been repaired by the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. It protects Missouri River bottom land sandwiched between the Platte River on the south and the Papillion Creek on the north.

The upcoming contract will complete the work needed to bring that levee back to preflood conditions as well as fix damage to its companion — a 9.67-mile levee known as R616-613 that protects property north of the Papillion Creek, chiefly Offutt and the Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.