MAY 20, 2015

Improved levees help keep Scottsdale dry

Gives nearby property owners a break on flood insurance

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levee repair
Through the heart of Scottsdale runs a ribbon of recreation and solitude. Tree-filled berms create shade for joggers; concrete walls buffer traffic noise.

These barriers help define the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt and stand ready to perform a crucial job – protect neighborhoods from millions of gallons of floodwater when the wash flows.

Scottsdale recently completed a renovation project to further secure five public levees along the greenbelt so that they can continue to safely protect the city for decades to come.

Aside from the larger community benefit, these improvements also mean roughly 500 property owners will not be required to carry federal flood insurance – saving these citizens around $500,000 per year. The levee analysis and upgrades cost about $500,000.

“It’s always a great outcome when we can increase the safety and function of our flood control system and save property owners money,” said Ashley Couch, the city’s stormwater manager.

Most of the levees that stand guard against flooding in the wash blend into the character of the greenbelt. Residents may walk past them daily without ever realizing they are part of an intricate engineering system to keep their homes and businesses dry.

Scottsdale’s recent work upgraded five levees located along the wash between Lincoln Drive and McKellips Road.

installing storm gratesThe improvements included raising the height of one levee, repairing eroded areas and installing backflow prevention devices on several storm drains.

The improvements gained the levees’ accreditation from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Accreditation means the designated floodplain area in Scottsdale will not expand and some 500 property owners near the levees are off the hook for the pricey, federally required insurance.

While the greenbelt levee system protects property owners from what can be a raging river during heavy rains, Couch still recommends all property owners carry flood insurance, since homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover storm-related flooding.

The good news is when a property is outside the federally designated floodplain, flood insurance is a lot cheaper to buy. Policies start as low as $119 per year, including contents coverage.

“Nearly 20 percent of all flood claims in the U.S. occur outside designated floodplains,” Couch said. “So we recommend everyone carry flood insurance just to be on the safe side. Typical flood claims in Scottsdale are tens of thousands of dollars.”

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