Big news on two fronts from the Sioux Falls City Council on Tuesday, all of it regarding the repairs to the city's levee system. The Army Corps of Engineers presented an update on that project and gave the council a surprising return on their investment.
Informational meetings for the council usually come with little to no fanfare, but Tuesday was an exception. Council members were given a presentation on the lengthy levee improvement project, which brought the first round of good news. After nearly 15 years, the project is complete.
"Ultimately, that's a relatively quick project within the civil works area given all of the variables that go into the planning and design. The project will sustain and be capable of addressing an event that occurred on a 100 year frequency or a .1 percent event," Ted Streckfuss with the Army Corps of Engineers said.
It was an improvement project that required the council to make a very difficult decision in 2009; spend $10 million with no guarantees it would get that money back.
"The City of Sioux Falls took a leap of faith and they provided an advancement to complete the project," Streckfuss said.
It was a decision that to this day has troubled some council members.
"I remember those times back in '09 when we did that and it was tough whether we should or shouldn't do it and our partners, whether they would step up or not," councilman Greg Jamison said.
In the second round of good news, the Army Corps of Engineers did step up. The city will be reimbursed for their contributions to the project, $10 million as early as December.
"Just as one of those guys that was here back then, I wanted to personally thank you for following through and finishing this up, thank you," Jamison said.
Based on the initial reaction, not many people were ever expecting to see that money again.
"The federal government followed through. They are actually paying us back, and for that we're all blessed. 158,800 citizens of this town are safer," Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether said.
There is no word yet on what the $10 million will be put toward. As for the levee project itself, there are still some inspections that need to be approved by FEMA, but those are expected to be completed without any complications.