Wednesday, May 14, 1997
Flood levee pondered for 2 towns
Silver Grove and Melbourne seek study grant

BY CINDY SCHROEDER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SILVER GROVE - Government leaders in Campbell County have agreed to explore the feasibility of a flood levee for the low-lying Ohio River towns of Silver Grove and Melbourne.

Local government officials decided Monday to send a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking federal officials to fund the first $100,000 of a study on a levee that would hold back flood waters up to 69 feet.

Part of the study's purpose would be to determine the actual cost of the project, which engineers have estimated would be $700,000 to $1 million.

"It's one more step forward," said Katherine Wright, who as Silver Grove's clerk and former mayor has pushed for flood control funding for three years for the town of 1,100.

During the March flood, 177 houses and trailers were damaged in Silver Grove. Receiving about $7,000 damage was the city building on Oak Street, which the city's insurance carrier recently refused to insure, Mrs. Wright said. Since the flood, she has been conducting city business out of her home.

In Melbourne, population 665, about 50 homes and trailers were damaged.

Local officials hope that the feasibility study will show that the CSX Railroad, which is built on a berm running through the two towns, could serve as a flood levee.

Large openings in the railroad berm would have to be closed, and closures would have to be added at Four Mile Creek, and possibly Melbourne Creek, Army Corps of Engineers officials said.

"We'd have to first go . . . and test the soil and see if it's suitable to serve as a levee," said Shelley Trulock, assistant study manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We want to make sure that it's not sandy, and that it doesn't leak. We want to make sure it'll hold back the water."

Upon hearing that the corps had made little headway in getting permission from the railroad to obtain soil samples, Campbell Judge-executive Ken Paul offered to set up a meeting with railroad officials.

While the feasibility study would cost $250,000, officials should know, after spending $100,000, whether the project would be affordable, Ms. Trulock said.

"You don't want to keep on spending the locals' money and the federal government's money if you're not going to come out with anything," Ms. Trulock said.

The rest of the study's cost, or $150,000, would be split 50 - 50 between the federal and local governments.

If approved, the federal government would pay for the first $100,000 of the feasibility study and 65 percent of the rest of the project's cost. The state would pay 23 percent of the project's cost, and Campbell County, Silver Grove and Melbourne would pay the remaining 12 percent.