Stop the St. Johns Bayou New Madrid Levee Project!

Earlier this summer, we provided an overview of the St. Johns Bayou-New Madrid Levee Project that is being discussed down in western Kentucky/southeastern Missouri/southern Illinois.  Then, just a short time later, we gave folks an opportunity to take action on the issue by submitting comments to Senator Paul and Senator McConnell.

Now, there’s an even more important and urgent opportunity to take action on this project.  Right now, the Army Corps of Engineers is accepting comments on a seventh proposed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Levee project.  The EIS outlines the positive and negative impacts and costs to the human environment from the project, and also discusses a number of alternatives.  Why seven?  Because of how poorly the Corps has written each one of them over the years.  If you’re feeling adventurous, and have a few weeks of time on your hands, feel free to go here and read the EIS.


If you’ll recall, this project is a colossal waste.  It will benefit very few landowners.  The primary purpose is to close a 1,500 foot gap in a levee along the Mississippi River at New Madrid.  This gap currently does two primary things: it allows “backwater” flooding to occur into the New Madrid Floodway, which allows the Mississippi to “drop off” some of its flow before continuing down river, and it also provides an outlet for the floodway in the event that the levee at Birds Point is blown to reduce major Mississippi flows.

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The proposal to close this gap would impact huge amounts of wetlands, while also serving as a buttress to the landowner’s efforts to stop the floodway from being used at all, ever.

This logic is entirely backwards from evolving science on floodplains and wetlands.  The River needs to be reconnected to its floodplains and to the natural ecosystems that depend (or depended) upon the River.

Stand with the River, and stand with many other citizens in towns up and down river from New Madrid, and help us oppose this project.


Steps to take action

  1. Compose new email to: Joshua Koontz <>
  2. Copy text below
  3. Paste text into new email
  4. Customize if desired, and add your name!

Sample letter

I urge the Corps to abandon the destructive and wasteful St. Johns Bayou New Madrid Levee project, and select the “no action” alternative in its final EIS.

This project will cut off one of the last remaining connections between the Mississippi River and its floodplain in Missouri, eliminating tens of thousands of acres of now-productive fish and wildlife habitat.  The Fish and Wildlife Service says it will cause significant losses of nationally important fish and wildlife resources and could collapse the entire fishery in this portion of the river.  Even worse, the amount of impacts to important wetlands and floodplain will be nearly impossible for the Corps to provide full compensation and replacement.

The Department of Interior says this project is not in the public interest.  Independent scientific experts agree this will be a destructive project.  More illogical is that it goes against federal policy, by making unwise use of floodplains.

The project will also make it harder to use the New Madrid Floodway to protect communities from major Mississippi River floods. The best way to reduce damages from smaller floods is to use low impact solutions that work with nature, not against it.  Additionally, as a Kentucky resident, it worries me that this project may result in greater flooding to communities on the Kentucky side of the river.

But maybe the most frustrating thing to understand is that the federal government made one-time payments for flood easement rights to landowners in this area over 70 years ago to use the land there as a flood-reducing measure for the Mississippi River.   Why would the government now waste millions of taxpayer dollars to prevent that land from functioning as it was intended (and as paid for) many years ago, and functioning more as it should naturally?  Why would the Corps succumb to political pressures and lobbyists?  Why would the Corps manage the River in irresponsible ways?

This project is bad for wildlife, people and taxpayers and should be abandoned by the Corps. If the Corps does not abandon this destructive project, the Environmental Protection Agency should stop it once and for all by using its Clean Water Act section 404(c) authority to veto the project.

Thank you for an opportunity to comment.




Thank you for standing up for wetlands, wildlife, your fellow citizens, and our waterways!