Temporary flood wall protects Omaha sewage treatment plant

The City of Omaha has erected this barrier to protect the sewage treatment plant from flooding by the Missouri River. The barrier is about 2,000 feet long and functions in the same way as an earthern berm that was similarly installed in 2011.

The City of Omaha is ramping up its flood preparations, just in case this summer takes a turn for the worse.

Pulling a page from the devastating flood of 2011, the city is:

  • Placing pumps along the levee and elsewhere so that runoff can be pumped out of the city and into the Missouri River. This will reduce the amount of runoff pouring into the city’s sewage system during heavy rains. Additional pumps are being placed at key spots along the city’s sewer system so that water that backs into the system from the river can be forced on down the line and toward the sewage plant, said Jim Theiler, assistant director of environmental services in the Public Works Department. These measures will better ensure that sewage can flow through the system to the treatment plant, he said.
  • Notifying property owners along the river of any drainage problems and keeping them abreast of the city’s actions.
  • Forming an Incident Command Center, an important organizational step taken during disasters to provide a chain of command, reduce miscommunication and speed decision-making. Public Works, the Omaha Fire Department and the Douglas County Emergency Management Agency are forming the team.

Missouri River crests — for now — at 31.97 feet

The Missouri River crested at 31.97 feet Wednesday in Omaha and is projected to continue slowly dropping, according to the National Weather Service.

Wednesday’s crest was the third-highest since the massive upstream dams were completed in the early 1960s. The highest crest occurred July 2, 2011, at 36.29 feet. The second-highest occurred earlier this spring, when the river crested about 2.5 feet higher than it did this week, reaching 34.41 feet on March 17.

Barring significant rains, the river could drop to minor flood stage in Omaha next week, according to the weather service. But city officials say problems could still occur during heavy rains. Even when the river is below minor flood stage, 29 feet, local rains could cause it to rise 2 feet or more, Omaha officials said. Should that occur, the city would be prepared to close the floodgates if needed.

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Repairs continue on U.S. Highway 75 south of U.S. 34

Lane closures are likely over the next two weeks on a stretch of U.S. Highway 75 as crews continue flood-related repairs.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation said Thursday that Hawkins Construction Company would be removing debris and excavating ditches along Highway 75 from its junction with U.S. Highway 34 south to Bay Road.

The work will be done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and lanes will be closed as needed.

EPA offers loans for water infrastructure repair

Three Midlands communities are getting a jump-start on funding flood-related projects through the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has signed an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide loans to communities for water quality infrastructure repairs. Those include such things as repairs to water treatment plants, sewage plants and pipes.

Communities will be able to apply for low- or no-cost loans from the EPA to fill in gaps while they wait for FEMA money to come in. (The FEMA money would reimburse the loan.)

The first to use this new assistance are Hamburg and Glenwood in Iowa and Boyd County in Nebraska.