Brent Martin, KFEQ

Missouri state officials hope to convince the Army Corps of Engineers to make changes to the Missouri River levee system.

Deputy Director Dru Buntin of the Department of Natural Resources says Missouri is working with Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa state officials to propose changes to the levee system in an effort to avoid the problems which made the 2019 flood so devastating.

2019 flooding in northwest Missouri/File photo by Brent Martin

“It’s the states’ intention working together to take a regional approach to looking at where are the areas where targeted investment and focus about our approach to flood risk management is going to reap the most benefit,” Buntin tells St. Joseph Post.

Of particular interest is the Missouri River L-536 levee in Atchison and Holt Counties, which breached in five locations in 2019. The Atchison County Levee District has suggested moving the levee back to allow more room for floodwaters. The district also suggests upgrading the levee with a more modern design.

A study commissioned by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson focused on pinch points along the Missouri River, segments that restrict the flow of water creating a greater potential for flooding. The study suggested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could alter not just the levees, but where they are built, using setbacks and other moves to restore a more natural floodplain.