Members of a federal interagency team working on the St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project in southeastern Missouri visited the project site Oct. 2. They were there to get a better understanding of the project’s purposes and get a “boots on the ground” perspective.
The purpose of the St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project is to manage flood risks in the Missouri bootheel.
“The project’s objectives are to manage socio-economic flood risks while recognizing the ecological importance the flood pulse provides to the remaining natural habitat in the project area,” Danny Ward, project manager for the Memphis District said. “The team is evaluating alternatives including flood control structures and management techniques that we believe will accomplish the objectives.”
The recommended plan for the project addresses flooding problems in two drainage basins adjacent to the Mississippi River. They are the 450-square-mile St. Johns Bayou Basin and the smaller New Madrid Floodway at 180 square miles. The first phase of the plan includes 24 miles of channel improvements, pumping stations, ponding easements and appropriate mitigation to compensate for any impacts caused by the project work.
The Corps is now completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address previous concerns. To ensure the EIS was conducted in the most accurate and unbiased manner they also integrated a multi-phase Independent External Peer Review process into the study process.
Those participating in the site visit Oct. 1 included Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson who represents the people in the project area, and staff representatives from Sen. Claire McCaskill and Sen. Roy Blunt.
Senior officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attended. Representing their respective agencies were Michael Been of the Interior Department, Charles Wooley of the Fish and Wildlife Service and Ken Kopocis
of the EPA.
Representing the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Terrence C. “Rock” Salt. Also present were senior staffers from the Corps’ national headquarters, Mississippi Valley Division and Memphis District.
Members of the St. Johns Levee and Drainage District, led by district President Furg Hunter, were also present to answer questions from the group.