Attorney General Chris Koster is going to federal court to block plans to open a Mississippi River levee in southeast Missouri.
Koster wants a court order telling the Corps of Engineers not to breach the Birds Point Levee, a 35-mile long levee between Birds Point and New Madrid County. The state says breaching the levee will flood more than 100,000 acres and will affect hundreds of Missourians.
The Attorney General’s Office says the suit will be filed at 1 p.m., which is also when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Memphis is set to meet with the Mississippi River Commission to make a decision whether to blow out the levee.
The earthen levee is 34 miles long and ranges from 1,500 feet to 11 miles wide. It was aurthorized to be built in 1928.
A low spot was built in the levee at Birds Point, which is just downriver from Cairo, Ill, so that when the rivers flooded, the water would overtop the levee, causing it to fail, so that about a fifth of the river flow would be diverted through the New Madrid Floodway. A 1,500 foot wide gap in the levee system just north of New Madrid would allow the water in the floodway to rejoin the Mississippi River, so that most of the Mississippi and Ohio River flood water would bypass the narrow section of the river, sparing the adjacent farming regions.
However, it was soon discovered that the levee at Birds Point would not give way, forcing the Corps of Engineers to blow the levee with explosives. A second problem with the plan is that the outlet near New Madrid allows water from smaller floods to flow backwards into the floodway, flooding the farmland in the area.