By Cade Cleavelin
Last year’s massive flood event along the Missouri River is seen by some as the latest catastrophe illustrating the need for broader regulation on Missouri’s levees.
Heavy melt-water and unexpected rains in the upper Missouri River Basin dumped an estimated 160,000 cubic feet of water per second – roughly two Olympic-sized swimming pools – down the river in June of 2011. That flow rate held for over 90 days.
Levees not designed to withstand such “500-year flood” forces were either over-topped or breached due to erosion and scouring. An estimated 60,000 acres of farmland were subsequently flooded.
Army Corps of Engineers emergency management chief Jud Kneuvean said privately maintained levees constitute a large percentage of protection along the Missouri River, but currently Missouri has no law governing their construction or reliability. Kansas, however, on the Missouri River’s west bank, does.
Kneuvean said, after the 1993 flood, there was a fresh, concerted interest in collectively managing the levee system, which lasted only a few years.
“Until we have a comprehensive system of floodplain policy, I think we need levees like this to fail,” Kneuvean said
–Edited by Megan LaManna