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The Flood of 2011: How Should We Manage Floodpalins?

In 1928 when General Edgar Jadwin and the Corps of Engineers designed the New Madrid Floodway as a part of the Mississippi River and Tributary project, the agency left a 1,500-foot gap at the foot of the setback levee for the release of floodwater. The built the fuse plug levee at Birds Point at the head of the floodway. Brewer Lake, lined with cypress and running through agricultural fields, lies just inside the Birds Point-New Madrid Levee.

The Flood of 2011 has reopened a discussion that has been dormant since the report on the Flood of 1993, Sharing the Challenge, was rendered into political oblivion: How do we manage our floodplains along large rivers, specifically the Mississippi?

The St. Louis Beacon has a superb article on the Flood of 2011 and the management of the Mississippi River and Tributaries system in the last six weeks with a lengthy discussion of the Bird’s Point-New Madrid Floodway.

Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area in the New Madrid Floodway

The discussion focuses on whether we need more floodways on the Lower Mississippi or more wetlands; on whether the New Madrid Floodway could be turned into a 136,000 acre National Wetland Park, with its headquarters in Cairo, Illinois; or whether we should encourage the 2800 remaining residents of Cairo to move out of the floodplain, a peninsula at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and allow it to flood.


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