MOUNT VERNON — A joint venture between Mount Vernon and Knox County will allow the two entities to continue to monitor the levee and dike system along the Kokosing River and jointly seek grant money for repairs and upgrades.
“The reason we’re here is really threefold,” Knox County Engineer Jim Henry told the Knox County Commissioners on Monday. “We want to assure everybody we’re still doing the (levee) inspections on an annual basis. The second part of it is the dike system, the flood protection system is still intact and appears to be in pretty good condition.
“The third thing is there was some discussion several years ago about cost sharing to make improvements. We are here jointly to see if there is any interest with the county to jointly pursuing any funding that is out there to make improvements to the dikes and maybe raising the level of the dikes.”
The concern about inspecting the levees came about because, according to Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis, the Army Corps of Engineers advised the city several years ago that it was no longer making annual inspections of the local levee system. The ACOE said the local dikes did not meet its standard for height, which Keaton said is 2 feet above the 100-year flood level.
The ACOE had been making inspections up to that time because it completed the debris removal from the river after the 1959 flood. However, it changed its requirements about three years ago and the local flood control system did not qualify for inspection under the new rules.
“We have been doing repair work as it has been reported to us and we want the public to know we have been maintaining the dikes,” Henry said. “[Mount Vernon Engineer Cameron Keaton] and I, over the past year, said we’ve really got to get back to doing annual inspections just to reassure the citizens of Mount Vernon and Knox County.”
Keaton and Henry did an inspection last November and found the dikes to be in good shape with only a few very minor problems that needed taken care of.
“We put together a GIS map of the system during the inspection,” Henry added. “We established mile posts just so we can identify during inspections where work needs to be done.”
There was also discussion about clearing gravel bars that develop in the river over time. The plan proposed to the commissioners was to have a gravel company come in and dig the gravel during periods of low water so there would be minimal impact by equipment to the levees. The gravel company would keep the gravel it removed from the river in return for doing the work.
The work needs to be done because these bars can divert river water to the river’s edge and erode the levees.