An environmental advocacy group is raising concerns about Iowa’s levees, some of which haven’t been assessed since 2016.
The Environmental Law and Policy Center recently reviewed flood protections on the Upper Mississippi River. Howard Learner, the center’s executive director, says they identified eight at-risk levees in Iowa, posing a potential danger to 29,000 people and nearly five billion dollars worth of property.
Learner says, “Even after the spring floods of last year, which had to have weakened many of the levees, there doesn’t seem to be an urgency in taking the time, spending the money and getting out there, and monitoring, reviewing and doing engineering assessments of these levees and figuring out what needs to be fixed.”
Learner says the fragile levees will only face more pressure as the climate changes. “We better make sure that they are monitored, they’re repaired and they’re up to snuff so that people, communities and farmlands aren’t put at risk as we see more flooding happening,” he says. According to the group’s analysis of federal records, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has never assessed the safety of 20 Iowa levees, which are locally maintained.
image from The Environmental Law and Policy Center -aerial view Mississippi levee break 2019 FEMA photo