AR city working to prevent new channel from forming on river

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The city of Batesville is still feeling the effects of the 2008 flood. Now, a project is underway to help keep the White River from changing its course!

Erosion along a section of the river has raised concerns for citizens, and now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking a look. It's also a concern that has had Southside Public Water Authority on edge. A change in the river channel could take out part of their facilities. But, that's not the only concern.

"Since 2008 we've been kind of skating on thin ice," said John Richardson, who manages the Southside Public Water Authority. He says the 2008 floods wore away nearly 20 feet of embankment along a portion of the White River, not far from their facilities. Erosion that could change the course of the river.

"What's it's doing is damaging the embankment and encroaching on our facilities. it's going to flood from time to time down here. We're not trying to stop to flooding. It's just when the flood waters go down, we want the river in the same channel," said Richardson.

Richardson says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a feasibility study, in the area just upstream from the White River Bridge, which determined the need to stabilize the embankment. "If the embankment is not stabilized the river could change course," said Richardson.

It's a problem that would not only have negative effects on the water facility, but possibly the citizens. "That could impact the city of Batesville. It could affect their drinking water supply and the Independence County Hydroelectric Generating Facility on lock dam number one," said Richardson.

The Corps, along with other agencies, is now involved and have come up with a plan to alleviate the problem. "They're going to start at this point and go 1900 feet east completely paving the embankment with large rift-raft," said Richardson.

The Corps estimates the project will cost nearly $838,000.00. Sixty-five percent of the funds will come from Federal Money, the other thirty-five percent will be paid with grant money and funds provided the Southside Public Water Authority.

"Hopefully we'll move forward, and plan on moving forward this year," said Richardson. RIchardson says the Corps still has to obtain the funds for the project, but hope to fast track the money to move forward.

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