Koster worried about effects of proposed flood

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 28, 2011


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said Tuesday that he and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to stop the U.S. Corps of Engineers' plans to detonate a levee.

Destroying the levee at Birds Point in Mississippi County will cause "serious flooding" across large portions of the county, Koster argues.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers, which manages the Mississippi River, is preparing to intentionally breach the levee in hopes of keeping Cairo, Ill., from flooding.

Koster said the Corps of Engineers maintains that a law enacted in the 1920s requires them to blow up the levee if the gauge at Cairo reaches a certain water level. But the attorney general believes the law is unclear as to whether the Corps of Engineers actually has the authority to make the decision to detonate the levee.

Koster said flooding from the detonation could cover as much as 130,000 acres -- 30 miles north to south and as much as 8 to 10 miles wide at certain points.

The flooding, he fears, would leave a layer of silt on the farmland that could take as much as a generation to clear, causing significant injury to the quality of the farmland for many years. In addition, there are at least 100 homes in the flood area, he said.

"The potential consequences resulting from the Corps' proposed action are significant to both Missouri and Illinois. There are no 'good' options at this juncture," the attorney general said in a statement.

"Nonetheless, given the long-term effects of the federal government's proposal to blow the levee on so many Missouri citizens, we are demanding a review by the federal court before the detonation is allowed to go forward."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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