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Project To Close Gap In Levee Stalled Amid Bureaucracy

Jan 25, 2013 -- 5:45pm

The project to close a gap in the Mississippi River levee has stalled amid bureaucratic wrangling.  Despite pressure by lawmakers and local stakeholders to resume reviewing plans to close a gap in the Mississippi River levee, federal agencies are not ready to move forward. They cite the need for further coordination and study.  The $100 million St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close the 1500 foot gap in the levee and protect homes and farmland from periodic flooding was approved in 2006, but it was stopped in 2007, after a lawsuit was won by the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Wildlife Federation in U.S. District Court to prevent destruction of area wetlands.  In 2008, the Department of Justice opted not to appeal the ruling. Since then, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been developing a revised Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] to help determine if the project should proceed.  Environmental groups have said the levee would be devastating to the ecosystem.  The Corps is still looking for solutions to address flooding problems in the area that have negative economic and social effects on floodplain residents. The final decision on whether the project will proceed will be made by Mississippi Valley Division commander Major General John W. Peabody. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has asked that involved parties come to a resolution.


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