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Letter: Missouri rivers need more room to flow during floods

Letter: Missouri rivers need more room to flow during floods

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Aerial photo of Atchison County levee

An aerial view shows the start of new construction of the Atchison County Levee L-536, near the Missouri River. The new levee is being set back from the existing one near the river, where one of the several breaches still holds water from the 2019 flood. Photo by Route 3 Films, used with permission from The Nature Conservancy. 

A threat to our rivers and communities is repeated whenever severe flooding damages communities and river habitats. It is time we start looking at new solutions to lessen the impact of these floods.

In northwest Missouri, a community-driven solution is close to completion. In 2019, devastating floods occurred up and down the Missouri River, causing millions in damage to farmlands, homes and businesses. The Atchison County Levee District convened partners to find creative solutions to recovery. They worked with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy, Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resources Conservation Service and other partners to construct a levee setback, which will allow the river more room to flow during floods. We need more of these kinds of projects.

Missouri’s precipitation data shows we are experiencing more intense rainfall events. The frequency of 100-year and 500-year floods are becoming more common. New solutions, like the one in Atchison County, should be implemented along the river and its tributaries. Rebuilding flood-control structures that are repetitively damaged over and over are not a wise use of funds. Simply, our rivers need more room. New solutions for flood management will save communities and businesses millions in the long term. Now is the time to give our communities relief and provide our rivers more room to flow.

Stream Teams United works to support stewardship projects to improve the health of Missouri’s rivers and streams for the benefit of both aquatic ecosystems and people.

Mary Culler • Shelbyville, Mo.

Executive director, Stream Teams United

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