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Army Corps Studying Birds Point Floodway Activation Alternative

Aerial image of the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway during the flood of 2011.
NASA Earth Observatory

The Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a study that might change the way they operate the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

That was one of the topics discussed at the Mississippi River Commission’s high water tour in Cape Girardeau on Monday.

The Corps is studying whether natural overtopping is a viable alternative to using explosives to blow up the levee at times of extreme Mississippi River flooding, like it did in 2011.

Ed Marshall farms in the floodway and sits on the Missouri Levee District Number Three. He told the commission natural overtopping is less expensive and less destructive than a sudden crush of water.

Corps personnel say it will take 3 to 5 years to complete the study. Mississippi Valley Division commander General John Peabody says he has concerns about this alternative because he fears it would require a much lower levee system, which means more frequent flooding.

In other business, General Peabody said the Corps will finish the draft environmental impact statement for the St. Johns Bayou - New Madrid Floodway project at some point this spring.

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