Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Following months of work in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, yesterday the White House Office of Management and Budget approved a plan that will allow the City of Sioux Falls to advance fund the remaining federal share of the Big Sioux Flood Control Project. Without the protection of additional flood control measures, 1,600 homes and businesses will be required to purchase federal flood insurance due to the updated 100-year floodplain that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will implement in 2009. The new plan approved by the Army Corps will allow the remaining construction work to be completed in a shorter amount of time, which will benefit homeowners and businesses.

"This agreement clears the way for the city of Sioux Falls to protect homes and businesses from catastrophic property damage, as well as reduce the amount of time that homeowners and businesses will be required to purchase flood insurance," said Thune. "After speaking on the phone last week with Jim Nussle, who is the director of the Office of Management and Budget, I am pleased that he expedited the approval of this agreement. I will continue working with local, state, and federal authorities to ensure that this project can be completed as soon as possible."

In April, Senator Thune outlined the possibility of the city advance funding the remaining federal portion of the project in a meeting with Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson. Under the plan outlined by Thune, the federal government would reimburse the city over time for bonds it issues to pay for the outstanding federal construction share. This would allow for the project to be completed much faster than waiting on annual appropriations, which have averaged about $2 million per year.

The Big Sioux Flood Control Project calls for the construction of a dam above the confluence of the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek - as well as elevating the levees along the banks of the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek, and raising the 41st Street bridge. These improvements will ensure that the necessary flood protection for homes and businesses are in place to prevent the estimated $750 million in property damage that would result from a major flood event.

Roughly 20 years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the original flood control project in Sioux Falls was ineffective due to two significant flood events in 1957 and 1969. In 1996, Congress authorized the construction of the Big Sioux Flood Control Project with total federal costs of $35 million. Since the project was authorized by Congress, $15.45 million has been provided by the federal government. However, $26.4 million in federal funding is still needed to complete the project - not counting the city's 25 percent matching contribution. Federal approval was needed because existing law restricts local contributions at no more than 25 percent.

With yesterday's approval by the Army Corps of Engineers and the White House Office of Management and Budget, it will now be up to the City of Sioux Falls to decide how to proceed with issuance of bonds to pay for the remaining costs of the project.