Kevin Killeen/KMOX

Efforts to Control Flooding Have Made the Problem Worse, Study Says

April 06, 2018 - 8:36 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A new study suggests that man-made levees meant to channel the Mississippi River and prevent flooding have instead had the exact opposite effect.

A report focused on the lower half of the Mississippi from Cairo down suggests that the risk of the proverbial "100-year flood" has increased 20 percent in the past 500 years.

Washington University geo-scientist Robert Criss says he's not surprised by those findings, adding that river management has become a vicious cycle. He likens current river management practices to clogged veins and arteries that cause one's blood pressure to rise.

“This is something of a protection racket. The floods get worse and we keep constricting the river more and the floods get even worse. And we keep constricting the river more as if that’s going to solve the problem,” he says.

The US Army Corps of Engineers disagrees with the findings, saying that Mississippi River levees have prevented $100 billion in damages over the past century.

“I think attributing this problem to climate change, as is often done, is really a way to deflect responsibility from our own actions and blame something external,” Criss says.