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Corps Of Engineers Touts Levee Restoration, Says There's Still More Work To Do

Katie Peikes
Contractors were doing some work on a levee near Percival in southwest Iowa, last week.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met a target goal at the beginning of the month to restore levee systems along the mainstem of the Missouri River to their height before last spring’s flooding. 
The Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District during a Friday town hall touted the progress it has made to restore levees damaged by last year’s Missouri River flooding. Colonel John Hudson, the commander of the Corps' Omaha District, said 24 of the Corps’ contracts have been completed – closing 24 breaches on five separate levee systems.

“It’s been an enormous task, as we have moved over 4.73 million cubic yards of sand. That’s enough to equal two empire state buildings,” Hudson said. “And over 1.1 million cubic yards of clay to restore the levees thus far.”

There is still more work to do, like growing grass on the levees, the Corps said. The grass will hold the clay on the repaired sections in place. The Corps stresses that until that grass grows, the levees remain vulnerable if water stays on top of them for a while.

The Corps has secured more than $400 million to fix the levees that were damaged last year. Hudson said the funding has been sufficient so far.

“And while we still believe we’ll need a few … hundred million more than that before it’s done, at this point we have received all of the funding we have needed for all of the contracts that we have awarded or currently plan to award,” Hudson said.

The Corps is also working with Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri on studies to address future flood risk management needs.

Katie Peikes is IPR's agriculture reporter