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Council Bluffs hires firm to oversee levee work

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News,Business,Iowa,Government Contractors

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Council Bluffs has hired an engineering firm to oversee improvements to the city's levee system.

The City Council on Monday night approved the hiring of JEO Consulting Group, of Lincoln, Neb., to oversee improvements, according to the Daily Nonpareil (http://bit.ly/1i9Dhe7 ).

City Engineer Matt Cox estimated it will cost $50 million to make improvements to Council Bluffs' river and creek levees needed to abide by federal standards.

"We need to move forward," City Engineer Matt Cox said. "I'm suggesting we start tonight by hiring a program manager."

If Council Bluffs doesn't make improvements, Cox said the Federal Emergency Management Agency could change its flood designation for the city and deem much of it to be flood prone. That would lead to higher flood insurance rates for property owners.

Council Bluffs, which is on the Missouri River, has 28½ miles of levees.

Some sections are in good shape, but others aren't high enough to meet federal standards, Cox said. Pipes within levees need replacing in some spots, and the 2011 Missouri River flooding caused damage in other areas where water seeped beneath the structures.

The city could pay the $50 million over a period of years, with the money coming from various sources, including a state program that lets cities use a portion of their sales tax revenue to defray costs. The city also could establish a stormwater utility fee, Cox said.

Officials will try to limit diverting funds from the city's capital improvement program, which would delay street and sewer projects.

The Lincoln engineering company's fees will total up to about 3 percent of the $50 million cost.

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, http://www.nonpareilonline.com

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