USACE and PBS&J Team to Expand National Levee Database Program

Beltsville, MD – In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to develop a national levee inventory and a program to locate and document the status of levees under federal jurisdiction. The levee inventory program—part of the National Levee Safety Program—is ongoing and PBS&J’s role has now expanded considerably.

PBS&J has worked closely over the past year with five USACE Districts to collect and manage levee data. These districts include Louisville, Kentucky; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; Little Rock, Arkansas; and St. Louis, Missouri. The recent contract expands PBS&J’s role to three more districts: Baltimore, Maryland; Los Angeles, California; and Rock Island, Illinois.

The National Levee Database program is a comprehensive digital inventory that will ultimately include location data for all 14,000 miles of levees within the USACE program. The database will retain—and facilitate easy access to—critical information about individual levees, bolstering efforts to ensure levee safety while assisting other agencies that conduct activities related to floodplain management.

In each case, PBS&J and local District survey subconsultants collect critical levee information such as levee centerlines and profiles, floodwalls locations, crossings, gravity drains, and related features. PBS&J is capturing levee centerlines and profiles utilizing Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS survey methods. All survey work is tied to the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) through use of National Geodetic Survey (NGS) benchmarks. PBS&J is also analyzing data collection methods, while testing the database.

To date, PBS&J has captured approximately 3,078 miles of levee centerline and profiles. Data collection for Portland, Louisville and St. Louis are at or nearing completion, while the Sacramento and Little Rock had additional miles added to the inventory. The three new districts include an additional 979 centerline miles of levee centerline. Follow-on funding in FY08 is anticipated to include many of remaining USACE Districts.

As data collection for each District is complete, PBS&J compiles the information into an ESRI personal geodatabase (GIS), all the district’s data will be compile into an Oracle geodatabase at the USACE where it will be accessible to staff. The information will be the foundation of data to support the USACE’s business processes such as the Levee Safety Program, Inspection of Completed Works (ICW), Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP), risk assessment,  emergency response efforts and assist with coordination for FEMA’s Flood Map Modernization and Levee Certification programs.

About PBS&J
PBS&J ( is a an employee-owned firm specializing in engineering, architecture, and environmental services for public and private clients, with a focus on transportation, federal, and infrastructure and environmental market sectors. As total-solution consultants, PBS&J provides its clients with a comprehensive portfolio of value-added management services and intelligent technology results that deliver sustainable and superior advantages. The firm was ranked by Engineering News-Record in 2007 as 25th among the nation’s top design firms. With more than 4,000 employees and 80 offices located throughout the United States and abroad, PBS&J is growing to service the global marketplace.