City plans to revise flood map

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency can’t do it, the city will.

During Tuesday morning’s Public Works meeting City Engineer Justin Howalt said it looks like the city may be on its own to revise a FEMA floodplain map and get credit for more than 20 years and $20 million worth of stormwater control improvements.

Updating the map is crucial to save city homeowners what Howalt and city officials say is the needless cost of maintaining flood insurance.

Howalt said FEMA ignored the improvements when the federal agency updated its floodplain map, which incorrectly categorizes certain parts of the city as flood zones.

Howalt also said he’s prepared to revise the map since FEMA claims it did not have enough money in its budget to do so.

City Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem Randy Crowder said he would like to involve the states congressional delegation in revising the map.

“I have no confidence in FEMA,” he said. “I want to twist every screw I can to get this fixed.”

Howalt said city property owners have paid out roughly $7.4 million in flood insurance over the last 20 years. In those two decades, there have only been 16 claims made from the 475 homeowners required to pay for flood insurance.

Howalt said he plans to meet with FEMA floodplain managers to get the improvements considered. But he said it could require a detailed study of all drain projects the city has done since joining the floodplain management program.

“This could be a lengthy process,” Howalt said.

A cost estimate wasn’t available, he said.

Properties located in a flood plain are required to purchase flood insurance managed through FEMA.

Howalt said once the city’s version of the floodplain map is completed, it will be submitted to FEMA for approval.

In other business, committee members :

• Recommended the city attorney begin negotiations to acquire a 50 foot easement to complete a drainage project collecting water from North Thornton and carrying it to Sorgen playa near Wal-Mart. The project would prevent flooding on Llano Estacado, Bunch said.

• Approved two task orders monitoring air and water quality in the city land fill. Both tasks are required by the New Mexico Environmental Department, according to Public Works Director Clint Bunch. The air quality monitoring will cost $95,548.26 and the water quality monitoring will cost $84,314.80. The city hired Albuquerque engineering firm CDM for both tasks.

• Approved a task order to renew the city’s landfill permit. The renewal will involve designing a new landfill area estimated to last 20 years at a cost of