Lack of easements complicates repair work for Lincoln’s aging levee
Built in 1960 by the Army Corps of Engineers, the levee is located in the center of town and is an earthen embankment lined with large, granite rocks, and is about 1,700 feet long, between 10 to 12-feet tall and with a top width of between 12 and 15 feet, said Doyon, on Monday.
The levee, after having been sorely tested by floodwaters from Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, needs to be repaired, but there are several variables in play. Foremost, Doyon said, is that the town never obtained easements from the five property owners who subsequently built on or near the levee.
The second hurdle for the town is that voters at Town Meeting this year narrowly defeated a $1.2 million warrant article that would have covered the levee upgrades.
The corps can inspect the levee, but New Hampshire, and in particular the Department of Environmental Services for which Doyon works, can order the town to do something about it.
“From the state’s perspective, anything that impounds or diverts water and is more than six feet in height” is regulated by the state, said Doyon. Although the state hasn’t determined “what we’ll do from a regulatory standpoint, we do have an obligation to regulate this structure so it’s quite conceivable that the department (the DES) will issue a letter to do something by certain time frames. There are structures that are built onto the levee and downstream that could be damaged and that classified the structure as a ‘high-hazard dam.’”
“Again, the issue’s with land ownership because it’s all well and good for us to direct the town to do something, but the town can say ‘we can’t because we don’t own the land,’ so before we get a shovel in the dirt, it’ll probably be more meetings with the parties to determine how we solve — or the town solves — that first issue.”
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