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Bill would ease levee improvement restrictions along the upper Mississippi


Congress is being asked to approve a bill called the Upper Mississippi River Levee Safety Act.

The measure would give levee districts more flexibility in adjusting levee heights as needed. Advocates say current policies from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are too restrictive.

“It’s time to make some significant progress on levee maintenance and preventing future disasters for the upper Mississippi River, and this is a good first step,” said Tim Maiers, Executive Director of the Upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers Association.

“This doesn’t answer all the problems we have but this is a good first step that we can take to work toward that.”

Maiers said they’re not asking for any federal funding and that, in fact, improved levees would save the government the cost of disaster aid.

He said climate change is a factor.

“We have seen some change in the weather,” Maiers said. “This just makes common sense. We’re trying to update important infrastructure for this part of the region as well as the country.”

The bill has bi-partisan support. Its sponsors include Republicans Mary Miller and Darin LaHood of Illinois and Democrat Eric Sorensen of Illinois.

UMIMRA said the act would apply only to federally improved levees along the stretch of the Mississippi River from Guttenberg, Iowa, to Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.