Lawsuit Aimed at Corps River Projects


By Stephanie Tyrpak

UNION CO. -- The Army Corps of Engineers is under fire for how they manage the Mississippi River. Several environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday. They want to stop construction of new projects that push water into the river channel.

You can view the lawsuit here. 
Many of the people that call the flood plains of Union, Alexander, and Jackson Counties home voiced their opposition to some of the Corps projects earlier this year.
The Corps uses wing dikes and other structures to reduce the need for dredging. However, many people believe over the last 20 years that's made flooding worse. 
The waters of the Mighty Mississippi have threatened many of the residents in the river bottoms. The area is home of small towns, farms,  and the Shawnee School District.
"Whenever it rains, it pours," said student Braden Mazo. "And whenever it pours, it floods really bad."
For the past several years, students there have studied how to prevent flooding damage and protect the levees.
"You learn about things that are going on in other places," said Mazo. "There's nothing that you can do about it. This is here, this is now. You can do something to affect the future here."
One focus for Mazo and his classmates is the Army Corps of Engineers use of river-training structures, like Wing Dikes. Those are piles of rock and concrete that line both shores.
"We're not just talking about one or two wing dikes," said Social Science Teacher Jamie Nash-Mayberry. "We're talking about hundreds."
Nash-Mayberry leads the class research. Her students have talked with geologists and poured through articles.
"One of the things we've worried about is the fact that we felt these wing dikes and navigational structures might be leading to increased flood heights," said Nash-Mayberry. 
The Corps believes the structures don't cause any harm. They can also save taxpayer money because they reduce the need for dredging.
"The way we look at it is they just keep filling the river up with rock," said Nash-Mayberry. 
Nash-Mayberry and her students want the Corps to let the National Academy of Sciences do an independent investigation.
The lawsuit filed in southern Illinois on Thursday also calls for new studies to be done before construction moves forward.
It's a case the Shawnee School District will be closely watching.
"This is my home," said Mazo. "And I don't want to lose my home."
The Corps of Engineers hasn't commented on the suit.
The Shawnee students have compiled their research into a movie,  called "Save the Levees, Save the Future." 
You can view the trailer on the school's website here. 
The actual film will be out later this summer.
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