Of the levees built along the Naugatuck River after the Great Flood of 1955, only Torrington’s are rated even minimally acceptable by the Corps.
The nearly 1-mile levee that protects the former Chase Brass works in Waterbury and the 2 miles of levees in Ansonia and Derby are all rated unacceptable because they have not been maintained well enough for decades, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
“That means there is a chance it could not perform during the next storm event,” said Scott Michalak, the Corps’ chief of geotechnical water resources in New England. “We’re not saying it wouldn’t. We’re saying it could. And ‘not perform’ could mean some riprap going downstream, not necessarily a catastrophic event. But if there are storm damages, then they’re not eligible for federal assistance.”
The Waterbury levee, built in 1960, sits on the Watertown line and is maintained by the state. It has leafy vegetation, including some tall trees, growing along its banks and plants sprouting from its flood walls.
Art Christian, a supervising civil engineer with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, acknowledged that maintenance of the levee has been lax.
“For 20 years, (Chase Brass) took care of it,” he said. “Then they were gone, and we have always meant to pass it along to the city (of Waterbury).
“Right now, quite a bit needs to be done to bring it up to Army Corps standards. We’re trying to figure out a cost-benefit (analysis) to determine what is the best thing to do.”
BY STEVE BARLOW