April 26, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today his office and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to stop the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ plans to detonate the levee at Birds Point in Mississippi County.
Koster said the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which manages the Mississippi River, is preparing to intentionally breach the levee in hopes of keeping Cairo, Illinois, from flooding. Demolition of the levee, however, will cause serious flooding across large portions of Mississippi County.
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. Koster 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 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 approximately 100 homes in the flood area.
“The potential consequences resulting from the Corps’ proposed action are significant to both Missouri and Illinois. There are no ‘good’ options at this juncture,” Koster said. “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.”