Plattsmouth's flooded water treatment plant

Plattsmouth’s water treatment plant, in the background, was surrounded by water during March flooding after the Platte River breached its bank. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is seeking bids for repairs, which are to be completed before March 1.

Plattsmouth officials have learned that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking bids to close the breach in the south bank of the Platte River that had stranded the city’s water treatment plant during the March flooding.

The breach is about 1 mile west of where the Platte River joins the Missouri River. Essentially the Platte River had carved a shortcut to the Missouri. As a result, water flowed into Schilling Wildlife Management Area and surrounded Plattsmouth’s water treatment plant.

For months, the plant was accessible only by boat. Now, the water is gone, but Plattsmouth officials have wondered for how long.

“We’re relieved,” Plattsmouth Mayor Paul Lambert said of the corps’ plans. “It was going to be a dilemma this winter with the water near our water treatment plant flowing over the road. We were wondering how we’d get there if it would freeze.”

More good news came from the corps’ decision to cut back on releases from Gavins Point Dam in preparation for winter. The release rate from the dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border decreased to 75,000 cubic feet per second this weekend, down from 80,000 cubic feet per second. By mid-December, releases will be reduced to 22,000 cubic feet per second.

Less water coming out of the dam means a lower river level.

“With the drop in the release from Gavins Point, we’re starting to feel like things are going our way,” Lambert said.

The Corps of Engineers discovered the bank cut sometime in May, after the water surrounding the water plant failed to recede as expected. Plattsmouth has since been in conversations with the corps on closing the breach, Lambert said.

“At first they didn’t think they could get to it,” he said. “We moved up on the priority list when they realized (the Platte) was affecting the flow of the Missouri.”

The corps’ bidding prospectus said the contractor is to build a 1-mile haul road to get equipment to the breach and place rock riprap and other fill into the breach. Less than 15,000 tons of rock riprap and 75,000 cubic yards of fill dirt are planned. The fill will be dug on-site.

The bid is to be awarded before Dec. 31 and the work completed before March 1. Cost is estimated between $1 million and $5 million.

Plattsmouth notched a major victory in September when its flood-battered water treatment plant got back up and running, ending months of water rationing.

Flooding also disabled the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Last week, the City Council selected an Iowa company to make repairs to that plant. The council awarded a $2.3 million contract to Building Crafts Inc. of Red Oak to do the repair work.

The wastewater treatment plant isn’t expected to be back online until June. Until then, about 1 million gallons of untreated wastewater is dumping into the river each day. The work includes repair or replacement of the plant’s processing, mechanical and plumbing components.