DUNCAN, Arizona – The small eastern Arizona town of Duncan, home to about 800 people, suffered damage to homes and critical infrastructure after the Gila River flooded in late August.
The severe flooding led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District to build a reinforced embankment to protect a wastewater treatment station in the town Oct. 3-14.
“This project will prevent damage to the treatment facility from similar flood events,” said David Silvertooth, a district project engineer. “We are providing protection to a critical public infrastructure using emergency management authority Public Law 84-99.”
Under Public Law 84-99, Emergency Response to Natural Disasters, the Corps can provide both emergency technical and direct assistance in response to flood and coastal storms, such as hurricanes and nor’easters.
Duncan Town Manager Terry Hinton said that after talking with Silvertooth about the Corps’ emergency management process and policies he felt comfortable about the project.
“I think what the Corps is doing out there is good for protecting the plant,” said Hinton. “There were a couple of levees near the wastewater plant that washed away, and it got dangerously close to taking out the treatment station. I think another flood event would have taken it out.”
Although the major storm and flooding happened Aug. 22, the soil around the Gila River remained saturated for about two months. Intermittent storms continued to threaten homes and wash away roads.
On Oct. 4, the Corps’ second day of construction, morning rain shut down roads and the project site. Hinton described road conditions during the safety standdown.
“Today, they suspended the work because of the rainstorms,” Hinton said. “The roads were slick and muddy and you have all of these trucks carrying these heavy rocks; it’s easy to tip over.”
Despite the storms, the district completed its mission to deliver bold solutions to serve and strengthen all communities, by completing the reinforced embankment around the town’s wastewater treatment station Oct. 14.
“I’m happy that we could protect critical public infrastructure for the town of Duncan.” Silvertooth said.
For more information about LA District’s programs and projects, visit https://www.spl.usace.army.mil.