Mississippi Flood Control: Major Changes Urged

05-18-2011 // Thomas Frank, USA Today

The following is an excerpt from an article in USA Today.

Bonnet Carre opening the spillway

Flood experts and conservationists are calling for a major shift in federal policy that since the 1920s has tried to limit Mississippi River flooding through a massive system of levees, release valves and floodways.

With millions of acres of land underwater, the groups say the flood of 2011 illustrates the limitations and possible harm of the government's decades-long effort to control the largest river system in North America. They say the rivers should be allowed to run more freely.

Wednesday, the National Wildlife Federation called for the government to scale back its effort to contain the Mississippi. "We should let the river act more like a river, give it room to run," said John Kostyack, the federation's vice president of wildlife conservation.

One controversial proposal by Kostyack is for the government to not repair the levee it blew open in southern Missouri on May 3, which could convert tens of thousands of acres of farmland into a floodplain with little or limited agricultural use. "This recent experience makes it pretty clear that our overreliance on levees is not going to get us through these crises year after year," Kostyack said.

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