NEBRASKA CITY – Gov. Pete Ricketts’ proposal for water management projects includes $5 million to repair the levee protecting 7,000 acres on the Peru bottom.

Following the flood of 2019, the federal government spent $100 million to repair 54 levee systems, but the structure under the management of the Peru Drainage District Nov. 6 had become inactive and was not eligible for federal repairs.

District officials say the levee built in 1954 had never breached, so rather than spending $2,000 on a System Wide Improvement Framework Plan that the government had required, the board used its resources for levee improvements. The repair bill after the flood is estimated in excess of $60 million.

Congress made an exception in it’s 2021 Water Resources Act  to allow public funds to be used for inactive levees and State Sen. Julie Slama said the proposed $5 million can be used as local match for federal assistance.

Slama: “That $5 million is huge in terms of flood recovery for Peru. The Corps of Engineers has said the people of Peru, the farmers of Peru who are in that levee district, need to contribute on the local end to cover some of the expenses associated with the levee repair, so this $5 million can cover that.”

She said $5 million was in the preliminary budget, but the appropriations committee is not expected to release its final budget proposal until next week.

The governor’s water management  proposals include a 4,000-acre lake between Lincoln and Omaha and flood control in the Wahoo Creek basin near Schuyler.

The governor also proposes a $23 million repair to Ft. Laramie-Gering irrigation canal.