The City of Seward has entered into an agreement to have its levees evaluated.

Without these evaluations, the levees would not be accredited to federal standards, meaning any Seward residents and businesses near flood plains, like Hughes Brothers, could be affected, according to City Administrator Greg Butcher.

At the Seward City Council’s Jan. 16 meeting, the board approved an agreement to have JEO Consulting Group to evaluate the city’s levees for accreditation.

During the board’s May 16, 2017, meeting Michael Bash of JEO spoke about why this process needed to take place.

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, is updating the area’s floodplain maps.

As these organizations re-map floodplains, the city’s levees need to be certified to FEMA’s standards. If not, Bash said the floodplain will be mapped as if the levees don’t exist.

If that happens, nearby homeowners with federally-backed mortgages may need to pay more in flood insurance.

Butcher said the city’s levees need to be evaluated to determine if they need construction to meet FEMA’s standards.

According to the board’s agenda packet, the project fee is $146,000 and will take place in phases over the next two budget years.

Butcher also said the Upper Big Blue Natural Resource District will reimburse the city 50 percent of these costs up to $50,000 for the project.

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