Milton-Freewater water board re-forms

Manford Anliker, Brad Humbert, Sam Hubbard and Roger Cosner will now be responsible for maintenance and repair of levees along the Walla Walla River.

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MILTON-FREEWATER - The Milton-Freewater Water Control District board is back in business.

Umatilla County Commissioners on Tuesday appointed four applicants to form a new board for the district. The group will be formally seated later this month, said Commissioner Larry Givens.

The four people appointed were Manford Anliker, Brad Humbert, Sam Hubbard and Roger Cosner. A fifth applicant was disqualified because he is not a landowner in the flood control district, Givens said.

The board is responsible for maintenance and repair of the levees along the Walla Walla River that protect the city and areas downstream from flooding. Completed in 1951 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the levees were decertified in 2008 after three previous bond issues to fund repairs failed.

The five former members of the board resigned last year because they were unable to obtain liability insurance for protection from lawsuits connected with their official duties. County commissioners put out a call at the end of January for volunteers to re-form the board.

Givens said the next step will be to have the new members meet later this month with the county legal counsel, himself and Milton-Freewater City Manager Linda Hall. At that time the four will be formally seated as the new board.

After preliminary details are taken care of, the main topic will be how to sponsor another bond election to provide money for immediate repairs of the levees so they can be recertified as well as fund long-term maintenance.

The decertification of the levees, which stretch along almost nine miles of the river, has become a key issue due to ongoing efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade the agency's Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The maps determine where property owners can be required to obtain flood insurance for mortgages or other reasons. The maps also substantially affect planning and development efforts within the city and county.

Because of the levee decertification, many property owners in Milton-Freewater and elsewhere are now designated as being at risk for flooding and will be faced with obtaining flood insurance, Hall said earlier this month.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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