U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Photograph courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / St. Louis District

Two years after the Great Flood of 1927 devastated the lower Mississippi River Valley, blues singers Kansas Joe McCoy and Lizzie “Memphis Minnie” Douglas shared the pain in their classic “When The Levee Breaks:”

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break

And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay ...

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Flooding along the upper Mississippi River is affecting navigation, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"High river levels have forced us to close two of our locks and dams. Lock and Dam 24 and 25 are both closed right now," said Mike Peterson, chief of public affairs.

"But there’s not a lot of river navigation going on along the upper river right now because upstream of us there is a whole lot of closed locks and dams."

Flood crests on the Mississippi are expected over the next week, but Peterson is not expecting much higher levels.

(Flickr/The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The Mississippi River, one of the hallmarks of American landscape, is no longer the expansive, grand river it once was. Decades of constructing levees, dams and other systems for managing floods have whittled it down to a series of pools, dramatically altering its ecosystem. 

Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is contracting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a fire break to keep an underground fire from reaching radioactive waste at the landfill complex in Bridgeton.

Nora Ibrahim/St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are talking about what’s best for the Bridgeton landfill and the World War II-era radioactive material stored at the neighboring West Lake landfill.

So says U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who was among four Missouri members of Congress – two Republicans and two Democrats – who cosigned a recent letter asking the EPA to work with the Corps, which previously dealt with similar radioactive sites elsewhere in the St. Louis area.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio & The Beacon

Every winter, hundreds of trumpeter swans migrate from their breeding grounds in Wisconsin to the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, just across the Mississippi River from Alton.

This year there are about 900 of them, a record for our area.

On a recent cold, blustery St. Louis morning, I got up well before dawn to drive the 20 miles north to the sanctuary and record this audio postcard.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Upgrading the Metro East’s aging levees is finally on Washington’s radar, according to officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Yet they warn that the push for more federal funding must continue if the Corps hopes to bring the levees back to 500 year flood protection standards by 2021. That's the Corps’ latest projection for completing the work.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding open houses Wednesday and Thursday evenings to discuss federal levee projects in the Metro East.

The Corps says it’s spent $134 million in federal money for upgrading the levees and more projects are underway.

Yet some in the Metro East worry the Corps may not move fast enough.

(Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio)

Developing Story, will be updated

Updated at 10:35 a.m. Thursday, June 6:

MSD says the Mississippi River has dropped enough to turn the pumps back on at Watkins Creek, ending the discharge of untreated wastewater into the river. The agency is asking that residents continue to avoid floodwaters in the area of the station, which is in the 11000 block of Riverview in Spanish Lake.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. with information from MSD:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the near-historic Mississippi River flood of 2011 caused $2.8 billion in damage and tested the system of levees, reservoirs and floodways like no other flood before it.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Updated at 2:20 pm with comments from Gov. Jay Nixon.

Federal officials say they're confident that they'll be able to keep a crucial stretch of the drought-starved Mississippi River open to barge traffic and avoid a shipping shutdown that the industry fears is imminent.

via Flickr/TeamSaintLouis (Army Corps of Engineers)

Updated 3:13 p.m. Dec. 28

The Mississippi River's water level is dropping again and barge industry trade groups warn that river commerce could essentially come to a halt by mid-January.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports ice on the northern section of the Mississippi is reducing flow more than expected.

Despite that fact, the Coast Guard remains confident that the nation's largest waterway will remain open.

Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois politicians and business leaders met in Alton on Monday to discuss ongoing efforts to keep shipping open on the drought-stricken Mississippi River.

The meeting coincides with work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove rock formations from the riverbed just south of Cape Girardeau.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin called the drought situation “a historic challenge," saying that additional measures may have to be taken to keep commerce functioning.

Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

Businesses that work and ship on the Mississippi River are seeking a presidential declaration keep water flowing out of reservoirs on the Missouri River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closes dams in South Dakota at this time every year to store water to maintain levels later in the spring and summer.

The Missouri River accounts for roughly 60 percent of the water flowing by St. Louis. In a drought-year like this year, George Foster of St. Louis’ J.B. Marine says reducing river levels would risk closing the shipping channel.

(Via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/Photo by Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk)

A Corps of Engineers study says more research and monitoring are needed to reduce the likelihood of damage along the Missouri River in future floods.

The study released Monday focuses on remaining vulnerabilities after the Missouri River rose to record levels last year. The flooding began after the corps released massive amounts of water from upstream reservoirs filled by melting snow and heavy rain.

Most repairs to damaged levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri are expected to be finished before next spring. Work on the river's dams expected to take longer.

(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.

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were in Alton Friday as part of their annual low-water inspection.

The Corps has stepped up emergency scouring and dredging operations in response to the unprecedented low water levels in the Mississippi River Basin.

Marty Hettle works for the barge operator, AEP.  He says the river forecast is not expected to trend upward any time soon.

Jacob McCleland of KRCU reported for this story.

The Army Corps of Engineers will restore the Birds Point-New Madrid levee to its original height by the end of the year. The Mississippi River Commission made the decision last week, according to Army Corps spokesperson Jim Pogue.

“Our level of confidence in our ability to finish this work this year is real high," Pogue said. "We’ve had good weather, good river stages and assuming that the contractor continues to make good progress and our other work in the confluence area goes well, we’ll be right on track.”

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Farmers and environmentalists faced off at a hearing today in Jefferson City over a water project on the Missouri River west of Boonville.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to build a new chute at Jameson Island designed to protect the pallid sturgeon and other native fish species.  Building it would involve dredging along the Missouri River, and the Corps wants to dump the sediment back into the river.  The move is strongly opposed by farm interests.  Dale Ludwig with the Missouri Soybean Association says up to a million cubic yards of sediment could be dumped into the Missouri River.

(Diana Fredlund/US Army Corps of Engineers)

A new report calls flood management on the Missouri River “outdated” and says it’s putting the public at risk.

The report by the environmental advocacy group American Rivers identifies the Missouri River as one of the ten most endangered in the country.