Apr 28, 2008

USACE and PBS&J Team to Expand National Levee Database Program

Database will retain critical information about individual levees

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to develop a national levee inventory and a program to locate and document the status of levees under federal jurisdiction. The levee inventory program—part of the National Levee Safety Program—is ongoing, and PBS&J’s role has now expanded.

PBS&J has worked closely over the past year with five USACE Districts to collect and manage levee data. These districts include Louisville, Ky.; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; Little Rock, Ark.; and St. Louis, Mo. The recent contract expands PBS&J’s role to three more districts: Baltimore, Md.; Los Angeles; and Rock Island, Ill.

The National Levee Database program is a comprehensive digital inventory that will ultimately include location data for all 14,000 miles of levees within the USACE program. The database will retain—and facilitate easy access to—critical information about individual levees, bolstering efforts to ensure levee safety while assisting other agencies that conduct activities related to floodplain management.

In each case, PBS&J and local district survey subconsultants collect critical levee information such as levee centerlines and profiles, floodwalls locations, crossings, gravity drains and related features. PBS&J is capturing levee centerlines and profiles utilizing Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS survey methods. All survey work is tied to the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) through use of National Geodetic Survey (NGS) benchmarks. PBS&J is also analyzing data collection methods while testing the database.

To date, PBS&J has captured approximately 3,078 miles of levee centerline and profiles. Data collection for Portland, Louisville and St. Louis are at or nearing completion, while Sacramento and Little Rock had additional miles added to the inventory. The three new districts include an additional 979 centerline miles of levee centerline. Follow-on funding in FY08 is anticipated to include many of remaining USACE Districts.

As data collection for each district is complete, PBS&J compiles the information into an ESRI personal geodatabase (GIS) and all the district’s data will be compiled into an Oracle geodatabase at the USACE where it will be accessible to staff. The information will be the foundation of data to support the USACE’s business processes such as the Levee Safety Program, Inspection of Completed Works (ICW), Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP), risk assessment, emergency response efforts and assist with coordination for FEMA’s Flood Map Modernization and Levee Certification programs.