Q: I’m concerned that my property value has been been impacted by the PMLS feasibility study and will be impacted more in the future. What are you doing about this issue?
A: We are actively engaging community members to listen to their concerns. In the Spring of 2020, we walked the proposed floodwall alignments with some communities to capture site-based concerns, questions. . We have not made a decision on the final alignment of any floodwall evaluated in the draft integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment (FR/EA), nor have we confirmed our decision to construct a floodwall at this point. We had to layout conceptual floodwall alignments to evenly evaluate the cost and benefits of the different alternatives in the draft EA/FR.
The earliest construction would occur is 2025, pending approval and funding. We will spend the next year refining the recommended plan prior releasing the final FR/EA and final agency decision. We would then spend another 2-3 years further refining the design during Pre-construction Engineering and Design (PED). Thus, the final alignment of the floodwall will continue to evolve as the study and design of the plan progresses.
Q: If a 3-foot floodwall is built, would pilings need to be raised so floating homes stay attached during a flood? Aren’t floating home pilings required to be at least as high as the top of levee?
A: The proposed floodwall does not trigger any actions for floating homeowners under City of Portland code Section 28.06.040.D.1, which requires pilings be two feet above FEMA’s 100-year flood elevation, not the top of the levee.
For example, in the Bridgeton area, the FEMA 100-year flood is approximately 32 feet in the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88), therefore, the minimum piling height is approximately 34 feet NAVD88.
Even during an extreme flood larger than the FEMA 100-year event, the construction of the floodwall would have minimal effect on floating homes. An analysis of a 1000-year flood event, which has a 0.1% chance of occurring, as shown in Section 7.5 of Appendix A of the Draft Feasibility Report, was simulated with and without the floodwall. With the floodwall, water levels on the Columbia River were only about an inch higher. The floodwall has very little impact to water levels because the interior area is a relatively small volume compared to the volume of water in the Columbia River during an extreme flood. When the interior area fills with floodwaters, it produces very little change to water levels on the Columbia River.
While it may be prudent to extend the height of the pilings beyond minimum requirements to reduce risk, it is not required beyond two feet above the FEMA 100-year flood water level.
Q: The Tentatively Selected Plan does not adequately account for costs of cleaning up sites contaminated with hazardous wastes. This would be an additional burden on taxpayers.
A: Ideally, we could avoid areas contaminated by hazardous waste, but this isn’t always possible, especially in an urban environment. If we can’t avoid using a site that is contaminated, the non-federal sponsor is responsible for resolving the contamination issue in a manner that meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Oregon State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) standards. However, this does not mean that the non-federal sponsor must bear all the costs of cleanup activities, which are usually borne by the Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) responsible for creating the contamination. The non-federal sponsor may be able to recover clean-up costs or compel the PRP (or responsible third parties), to clean-up the site prior to the acquisition of the land. Before the final feasibility report is released, the local non-federal sponsor must commit either to accepting responsibility for the required response, or initiating procedures requiring the responsible parties to respond.
The draft feasibility report identified 25 potential sites with contamination concerns, but further investigation since the draft report was released shows three potential sites remain. It is anticipated that the number of sites with concerns will continue to decrease.
For the sites that cannot be avoided, an approximate preliminary cost estimate for Hazardous, Toxic, And Radioactive Waste (HTRW) response actions will be included in the final feasibility report. This estimate will be refined with more detail during Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED).
Learn more about Hazardous, Toxic, And Radioactive Waste (HTRW) policies in Engineer Regulation 1165-2-132
Q: Is the Army Corps of Engineers complying with local and state regulations?
A: Compliance with state and local requirements is not a requirement for federal projects. However, state and local agencies are encouraged to provide their feedback to inform the Corps on the project’s conformance with state and local requirements. In addition, Federal projects require environmental coordination, evaluation and compliance with the appropriate federal agencies or state agencies administering federal laws (Water Quality Certification).