The Arkansas Levee Task Force has presented its final report with recommendations to improve monitoring and maintenance of the state’s levee system, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
In the past six months, the Arkansas Levee Task Force has analyzed the current condition of the state’s system of 92 levees. Members of the Task Force have submitted recommendations based on Governor Hutchinson’s four objectives:
• to analyze the current conditions of the levees;
• to identify sources and requirements for funding the construction, repair, and maintenance of levees;
• to study the prospective monitoring and reporting of systems for the maintenance of levees; and
• to review the adequacy of current laws and the organizational structure of the levee system and levee district boards.
Hutchinson created the Arkansas Levee Task Force by executive order last year after the state experienced record flooding that caused extensive damage to the state’s levee system. The governor appointed both state and local representatives to the Task Force, including a county judge, a county clerk, an elected municipal official, state agency secretaries, state legislators, citizens representing flood-impacted areas, citizens with knowledge of the engineering, construction, funding, or oversight of levees, and other key stakeholders.
The report from the 26-member Task Force includes 17 recommendations. Among these are recommendations that the state provide financial incentives to encourage districts to participate in a federal levee inspection and maintenance program, and the consolidation of certain levee districts that are dependent on each other.
The Arkansas Levee Task Force’s report and an executive summary of its recommendations can be viewed HERE.
“Last May, Arkansas experienced historic flooding that put our levee system to the test and caused uncertainty for thousands of Arkansans living along the Arkansas River,” Hutchinson said. “I appreciate the many hours that this task force has dedicated to the effort of making our levees more reliable and giving Arkansans the utmost confidence that our levees will hold in the event of another catastrophic flood. These recommendations will be useful for our state, county officials, and local levee district boards as we seek to better protect the people who live along our waterways.”
Jami Cook, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety and chair of the Arkansas Levee Task Force, joined Hutchinson at the news conference.
“It was an honor to serve as the chair of the Arkansas Levee Task Force and work with such a remarkable team,” Cook said. “I am thankful for the many contributors that brought insight and resources from across the state, and for this team’s commitment to producing a comprehensive report for the Governor and the citizens of Arkansas. The Final Report is more than a collection of facts and maps; it is an inclusive tool that identifies areas needing improvement and outlines strategic plans for bolstering our shorelines and levees, and protecting life and property. As Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, I am committed to working with federal, state, and local leaders to implement the recommendations of the Task Force and work together to protect our citizens and our natural resources.”