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Levee answers sought by group

November 13, 2006, by Laura McVicker, H&N 

Since an Upper Klamath Lake dike broke last June flooding acres of farmland and a highway, officials have wrestled with two questions: Who owns Klamath County's dikes and what state are they in?

A dike task force will have its first meeting since the June failure at noon Wednesday at the Running Y Ranch Resort conference center.

The task force hopes area dike owners and those who maintain them will attend.

Task force members include officials from Klamath County's emergency services, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers.

Others, including county public works department officials, the county's watermaster and county commissioner Bill Brown will attend.

At Wednesday's meeting, a Corps of Engineers representative plans to explain how owners can participate in a free federal inspection program if they are part of special taxing districts or associations set up for levee maintenance.

Formed after June dike break

The county's dike task force formed after June 7, when floodwaters poured through a 200-foot breach in the Geary Dike, causing millions of dollars in damage and closing nearby Highway 140 for days.

Questions emerged as to who is in charge of inspecting dikes - emergency service officials are in charge of disaster preparedness for the county, but aren't managers of dikes. County commissioners don't have jurisdiction over the maintenance of dikes, and law enforcement officials only step in when there's a public safety risk.

“At any rate, I think this will help us all understand the levee situation,” said Klamath County Emergency Manager Bill Thompson.

Anyone interested in attending Wednesday's meeting, should call Thompson at 883-5130, ext. 215.


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