The City of Memphis is proposing the construction of a 1,500-foot long levee at the west edge of town to protect the municipal water and light plants.

With initial estimates for a dirt levee that would protect much more of the city’s power and water sources, coming in much lower than a proposal to build a cement containment for the municipal substation, the Memphis City Council on Thursday voted to proceed with seeking proposals and bids for the project.

The council met with a trio of landowners adjacent to the municipal water and light plants to finalize plans to proceed with a proposed earthen berm that would be built on an easement on private property on the west edge of town, just north of Highway 136.

Not only would the proposed flood protection structure divert flood waters from the city’s power plant and water treatment and distribution centers, it would also offer additional flood prevention for the private property located south of the plant, including the Fuller Farms building and the Animal Health store.

Initial projections are calling for an earthen levee that will add anywhere from four-feet to 12-feet of fill, or approximately 50,000 cubic yards, to build a roughly 6-foot tall levee along a 50-foot-wide easement. The levee will run north and south, from just west of the Fuller Farms building. The levee would be approximately 1,500 feet long, running north from Highway 136 across the former railroad tracks, to the base of the hill located northwest of the city property.

The city is proposing funding the project based on the cost-savings factor. Previously the only other option under consideration was a cement retaining wall around the city’s electrical substation.

City Superintendent Roy Monroe indicated that initial cost estimates for the levee option were substantially less expensive.

“What people need to understand is that if we do not do something and flood waters get to that equipment, we are likely not talking about a short power outage but possibly months to replace the main components of the city’s distribution system,” said Alderman Lucas Remley.

The city will advertise for proposals for the dirt work and any other suggested components to complete the project. Project specifications are available at City Hall. Plans are to review the initial proposals and bids at the March 2 City Council meeting.