Drainage Districts say stronger levees needed

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract for more than 11-million dollars to repair two levee systems damaged during the 2008 flood.

L.W. Matteson, Inc., of Burlington, Iowa, will repair more than one mile of levee breaches at the Hunt and Lima Lake Drainage Districts and Indian Grave Drainage District.

Crews will build permanent sand levees and fill in scour holes.

In the Hunt and Lima Lake Drainage Districts, work also includes removing and casting aside objectionable material and stockpiling dredged material near Lock and Dam 20.

The Corps plans to restore the levees to their original condition rather than adding any height or extra protection.

One of those levee systems that will be repaired is here in the Hunt Drainage district, which borders the Lima Lake Drainage District.

You may not realize it but much of Lima Lake and Hunt are still under water.

We talked with Sam Zumwalt the Chairman of the Hunt Drainage District.

He says just restoring the levees to previous conditions won't fix the problem we saw this year.

Is this frustrating for you?

Zumwalt said, "It is frustrating because for 20 years we've been trying to get the government and the corps of engineers to recognize what's happening with the river and it filling in. We've advocated dredging the river and putting it up on the levees, making them stronger as the years go by. It's frustrating that we haven't gotten that accomplished yet."

Zumwalt says the good news is the Comprehensive Plan that would reinforce levees along the Mississippi has been passed.

But Congress and the Senate have not allocated any money to fund the changes.

Zumwalt says funds are needed to bring the levees up to handle 500-year floods like we saw this year.