Flooding on the Mississippi probable for 2010

The flood outlook for 2010 does not look good for many cities along the Mississippi River and it's tributaries.

That outlook was one of the topics at the annual conference of the Upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers Association Tuesday.

KHQA's Jarod Wells was at the conference in East Peoria to find out more about the flood outlook and what will be done this year to help prevent any major flooding.

Corps of Engineers Rock Island District Chief of Water Control Jim Stiman said, "As you move further down the river, probably down stream from Burlington, there's an increased risk of flooding this year."

Jim Stiman knows a lot about flood predictions. He is the Chief of Water Control for the U-S Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District. He says, at this point, it's hard to determine the severity of the flooding.

Stiman says, "But it's probably pretty close to a given that a number of locations like Burlington, Quincy and Hannibal will probably reach flood stage."

A lot of rain last year, and high snow pack this year will add to the risk of flooding this spring. The good news is we should not see another 2008.

Stiman says, "That's not enough to create a major flood. The major floods like 1993 and 2008 they were really rainfall induced."

But we're not out of the woods.

U.M.I.M.R.A. Vice Chairman Mike Klingner said, "One of the things we're kind of concerned about are some of the risks we're seeing with some of the snow north of us and the high moisture and the precipitation we had last year. It was about 150% of what is normal for this area, so there's a lot of immediate concern of what the risk of flooding is and if we can handle it."

Another topic at the conference was a long-term plan for levee systems along the Mississippi and its tributaries. The federal government wants all levees on those rivers to be raised to a 100-year flood level. Klingner says levees in the Fabius and Sny Island drainage districts could be raised in 2010.

Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock (R-18) says he has been working to find funding to help communities raise their levees.

You'll recall the federal government did pass a comprehensive plan to repair and extend locks and dams up and down the Mississippi river.

But although the plan was approved, it was not funded.

KHQA held Congressmen Phil Hare and Aaron Schock accountable regarding the lack of funding.

A letter has been sent to the President and to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the issue.

Hare says the Interwaterway Trust Fund is broke, so money to fix locks and dams has to be a priority.

Congressman Phil Hare said, "This is 28 thousand construction jobs. These locks are going to fail. The questions isn't are the locks going to fail, it's when are they going to fail. And when they do we'll be in serious trouble. We've got to get money in there."

"Individuals or businesses can't build highway systems, rail systems or water ways on their own. It's a function of government and so I think it's a wise use of tax payer money," said Congressman Aaron Schock.

Congressman Schock says he's done work with a bipartisan group to secure nearly $6 million for engineering work on locks and dams.

He says now congress must get back to work and get more money to start pre-construction work.