The Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway is a component of the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Project, and is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri just below the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The construction and operation of the floodway was authorized by the 1928 Flood Control Act and later modified by the 1965 Flood Control Act. The purpose of the floodway is to lower flood stages upstream and adjacent to the floodway during major flood events. The Floodway is some 35 miles in length and varies from 4 to 12 miles in width. It comprises about 205 square miles of alluvial valley land. The primary features of the floodway are the setback (mainline) levee, which extends from Birds Point, Missouri, to New Madrid, Missouri, and the frontline levee which is located on the west bank of the river and generally follows its alignment. Within the frontline levee, there are two fuseplug sections. These sections were designed and built 2 feet flower than the remaining portions of the frontline levee. The upper fuseplug section is 11 miles in length and is located in the northernmost reach of the frontline levee. The lower fuseplug is 5 miles in length and is located in the extreme lower end of the frontline levee. In addition, there is an existing 1500-foot gap which is located between the setback levee and the end of the frontline levee. This opening currently provides a drainage outlet for interior run-off and allows flood backwaters to enter the floodway.
The existing Plan of Operation for the Floodway was reviewed by Missouri state officials in November 1985 and approved by the President, MRC, in January 1986. The plan required modification to the frontline levee which includes raising 12,500 feet of the upper fuseplug and 7,500 feet of the lower fuseplug and installing horizontal polyethylene pipe in three crevasse locations. These crevasse locations are designated as Inflow, Inflow/Outflow No. 1 and Inflow/Outflow No. 2. In addition to the modifications to the frontline levee, all materials, including the blasting agent which will be pumped into the pipes in the levee, and equipment necessary to place the floodway into operation have been acquired by the Memphis District.
In order to assure adequate water access to the crevasse sites access lanes are required from the Mississippi River to and along the designated crevasses. With a project design flood rate of rise, approximately 2 feet per day, initial preparation of floodway is required when the stage at the Cairo, IL, gage is approximately 59 feet; completion of preparation of the Inflow Crevasse at 60 feet; and operation of the floodway begins upon order of the President, MRC.