Federal study may lead to more Omaha-area lakes
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new federal study could speed up the construction of several more lakes in the Omaha area to help control flooding and boost recreation options.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District will reopen a study of the Papillion Creek Watershed that hasn’t been touched since the early 1970s, the Omaha World-Herald reported . The federal agency approved the study in June as the only project in Nebraska to receive funding this year.
“Due to the limited amount of funds and the sheer number of requests from around the entire country, this was truly a one-in-a-million opportunity,” said John Winkler, the district’s general manager.
The decision to resume the decades-dormant study could lead to lakes near the district opening to the public in about 15 years. Construction had previously been projected to take about 50 years to complete.
The Corps of Engineers and the district will each pay $1.5 million for the study. It’s the first step toward accessing millions of dollars in federal construction funds that could streamline the nine remaining reservoir projects in the Papillion Creek Watershed Management Plan.
The estimated of cost of the nine reservoirs is about $150 million.
The damages from flooding amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars more than the cost to construct the reservoirs, said Brad Thompson, planning branch chief at the Corps of Engineers in Omaha.
“Flood risk is one of those things that doesn’t really hold people’s interest because it’s really kind of periodic that these things happen,” Thompson said.
The latest addition to the Omaha area’s system of flood-control reservoirs, Flanagan Lake, opened last month. Like Flanagan Lake, the reservoirs will also be used for recreation.
The federal agency and the district plan to review current mapping and identify any necessary updates to the plan. The entities will then take the plan to lawmakers.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com