New Levee to Protect Mall, Downtown - NBC4 Washington

New Levee to Protect Mall, Downtown

Parts of city now in 100-year floodplain



    Downtown D.C. Dam

    Fear that a 100-year flood could devastate much of downtown Washington is prompting federal and city officials to construct a $5 million levee near the Washington Monument. (Published Monday, Nov. 15, 2010)

    The District isn’t exactly known for its floods. Sure you hear about the Tidal Basin overflowing from time to time or King Street in Alexandria becoming a finger of the Potomac. But for the most part flooding is not the weather problem D.C. deals with most.

    But according to recent flood maps issued by FEMA, portions of the National Mall, downtown and southwest Washington now lie within the 100-year floodplain.

    That’s why several local and federal agencies were to announce Monday morning the construction of a new levee that will protect those areas. It will be located on the grounds of the Washington Monument along 17th Street near Constitution Avenue. The new levee would replace an earthen levee that was first built in the late 1930s.

    According to the National Park Service, that levee uses outdated methods including the use of sand bags, jersey barriers and a soil berm to protect the city from flooding. The new levee would meet standards imposed by the federal government after Hurricane Katrina.

    Construction is expected to start in the next few weeks and there will be closures on 17th Street because of the work.

    The project is an initiative by the National Park Service, the National Capital Planning Commission, Army Corps of Engineers and D.C. Offices of Planning, the Environment, and Transportation.

    View drawings of the levee here and here.