New Milton-Freewater Water Control District board to meet Wednesday

The group is in charge of maintenance and repairs of levees along the Walla Walla River.

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MILTON-FREEWATER -- The newly-reformed Milton-Freewater Water Control District board will meet Wednesday to be formally seated.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Milton-Freewater Public Library, 8 S.W. Eighth Ave.

Four members of the five-member board were appointed earlier this month by the Umatilla County Commission. One seat remains open and interested people can submit a letter of application to the county commission to be considered for the position, said Commissioner Larry Givens.

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

The board had to be reappointed recently after the five former board members resigned last year because they were unable to obtain liability insurance for protection from lawsuits connected with the official duties. Umatilla county commissioners to put out a call for volunteers to become new board members and appointed Manford Anliker, Brad Humbert, Sam Hubbard and Roger Cosner to the board.

One key issue facing the new board will be sponsoring another attempt for a bond issue to provide money for immediate repairs so the levees can be recertified as well as provide long-term maintenance, Givens said.

The decertification of the levees affects residents in the city and elsewhere along the river because of an ongoing project by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade the agency's Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Those maps determine where property owners can be required to obtain flood insurance for mortgages and other reasons. The floodplain maps also substantially affect planning and development efforts within the city and county.

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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