Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is your levee federal, state, town or private?

If you don't know, chances are nobody, including the Corps of Engineers, has any idea either. Over the years many were built on the northern Mississippi River and its watershed, unlike the lower Mississippi region, they are not all part of the CoE project.
After the last devastating flood in the Midwest 15 years ago, a committee of experts commissioned by the Clinton administration issued a 272-page report that recommended a more uniform approach to managing rising waters along the Mississippi and its tributaries, including giving the principal responsibility for many of the levees to the Army Corps of Engineers.

But the committee chairman, Gerald E. Galloway Jr., a former brigadier general with the Corps of Engineers, said in an interview that few broad changes were made once the floodwaters of 1993 receded and were forgotten.

And after Hurricane Katrina destroyed levees protecting New Orleans in 2005, Congress passed a bill setting up a program to inventory and inspect levees, but it failed to provide enough money to carry that out, Dr. Galloway said. “We don’t even know where some of these levees are,” he said.
Regardless of who built them or how they were built, all levees work together and a failure in one place can undo the best efforts of others. They are another part of America's infrastructure that urgently needs expensive attention if we wish to remain a first world country.


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