levee

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Metro East environmental advocacy group is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over access to information about the Southwestern Illinois levees and plans to repair them.

In the suit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the American Bottom Conservancy (ABC) said the Corps had repeatedly failed to respond to federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The suit is seeking an injunction from the court to compel the Corps to comply with the Act.

(Chris McDaniel/Beyond November)

Illinois Congressional candidate Jason Plummer points to the uncertainty of the Metro East levee situation as a large cause of the area’s high unemployment rate. 

The Republican candidate says federal regulators are getting in the way of bipartisan work by local officials.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency alleges the area should be deemed a “hazard zone.” If that happens, the value of houses would reportedly plummet. Plummer said the number one complaint he hears is the lack of certainty.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

The US Army Corps of Engineers has given the green light to start levee upgrades in the Metro East.

The Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council will start the first phase of levee construction next month.

The project supervisor for the council, Les Sterman, says the goal is to get the levees to a 100-year flood protection level by the end of 2014.

That would meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s accreditation standard.

St. Louis Public Radio

The Southwestern Flood Prevention District Council says too much is at stake for any more delays in fixing levees in Metro East. 

Les Sterman, the project's supervisor for the Council says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has so far taken too long in approving plans to work on the levees.

He said their latest plan approval was six months late.

“Essentially we're doing our part," Sterman said. "All we're asking is for the federal agency to do its part in helping us get this project moving.”

(Atchison Co. Emergency Management)

State and federal leaders are gathering in Columbia Saturday to talk about ways to prevent last year’s devastating floods that plagued northwest and southeastern Missouri.

Heavy snow and rainfall led to record releases from South Dakota dams along the Missouri River –and as a result 200,000 acres of farmland in northwest Missouri sat flooded for months, along with a significant stretch of Interstate 29 in Missouri and Iowa.  Around 130,000 acres were flooded in the southeast part of the state when the Army Corps of Engineers blew a hole in the Birds Point Levee along the Mississippi River in order to protect the town of Cairo, Illinois.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Mo. Gov. says he's committed to rebuilding levees

Governor Jay Nixon says he remains committed to seeing levees along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers rebuilt.  He told reporters during a press event at a Callaway County farm along the Missouri that farmlands damaged by both high water releases and levee demolition must be restored:

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Governor Jay Nixon (D) and nearly half of Missouri’s congressional delegation are pledging to rebuild levees and pursue policies that will make massive water releases from dams unnecessary in the future.

They addressed this issue at a meeting of Missouri Farm Bureau members at the State Fair in Sedalia today.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit three southwestern Illinois counties filed to block the U.S. government from declaring the region's levees functionally useless.

U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert called the lawsuit moot Monday, after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in court it had no plans to pull the accreditation of the region's levees as part of a levee-mapping effort.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The people who oversee 64 miles of aging Mississippi River levees in southwestern Illinois have signed off on a $151 million plan to upgrade the barriers perhaps by 2014.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council adopted the proposal Wednesday involving levees in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

Officials expect the upgrades to be funded largely by a quarter-cent sales tax.

Updated 1:23 p.m. May 3 with information about lawsuit:

Via the Associated Press:

A group of 25 southeast Missouri farmers is suing the federal government over its decision to blow a hole in a levee, causing their farmland and houses to flood.

Cape Girardeau attorney J. Michael Ponder filed the lawsuit Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated explosives on the Birds Point levee to ease pressure from the swelling Mississippi River.

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