Description of the Issue
There has been a geographical issue related to floods in Missouri, specifically in Eureka, a city in Missouri States (Vox, 2018). Flooding is a phenomenon in the town that now constitutes an environmental challenge due to the geographical impact caused. In 2015, there was major flooding in Eureka that caused displacement of residents’ homes, and a section of a road was covered (Vox, 2018). In 2017, the same area was affected by flooding, resulting in less safety operations for the residents. Due to the increase in water volume in the Meramec River, flooding became a common occurrence in Eureka as the river passes there, flowing through different towns. Residents of Missouri noticed how Valley Park’s levee caused devastating results to other towns based on the 2015 and 2017 flooding. When residents saw how the Meramec River was prone to flooding, officials in Valley Park, a city downstream of the river, constructed a levee to surround the town and then keep river water out.
Characteristics of flooding of the Meramec River include days of heavy rainfall experienced in the area, which inevitably causes an increase in the volume of the river. More characteristics of the flooding challenge in Eureka include an increase in water in the Meramec River and some residents’ claims that Valley Park’s levee could have contributed to flooding in nearby towns (Vox, 2018). The use of levees around Valley Park town resulted in “levee wars” that caused conflict with residents who considered their presence as an issue for towns that lacked levees. Historical records proved how engineers knew that levees caused confinement of rivers that made then flow faster and rise higher (Vox, 2018). As the Army Corps that constructed the Valley Park levee defended its action, the impact on neighboring towns remains an environmental challenge.
A different review of floods was performed in Illinois and Missouri, whereby farmers complained of flooding along the Mississippi River (O’Connell, 2019). Many farms and fields were constructed as human activities surrounding the Mississippi River to ensure the maximizing of the river’s water for agricultural produce. Different levees were constructed along the Mississippi River in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri states (O’Connell, 2019). Even though levees offered benefits for the residents, a result was a change in the flow of the river as there were other changes constructed, like locks, dams, and wing dikes (O’Connell, 2019). An increase in flow became a common consideration as environmental changes caused an increase in heavy rainfall. A change in climatic conditions greatly impacts flooding conditions along different rivers, indicating that there is an inevitable change in environmental status.
Importance of Human Activities
The challenge of flooding caused by the presence of levees is a result of human activities, as proved by an engineer who stated that levees offered people a false sense of security (Vox, 2018). The use of a fluid mechanics lab’s simulation indicated how a generic model of a river flew uninterrupted due to no levees, but with levees, the simulated river had faster and more flow. The challenge of flooding in different towns along the Meramec River got proved to be a result of levees using the simulation since when levees were of different heights, the lower side flooded more than the higher side. Human activities along the Mississippi River caused the construction of levees as the residents wanted to engage in agriculture (O’Connell, 2019). Handling human activities is a critical process of ensuring the issue of flooding receives pertinent management at all times.
The occurrence of unintended cases of flooding is common when the officials around do not realize the need to implement immediate changes. Some unintended consequences include changes in groundwater levels, an increase in downstream flood risk, and loss of biodiversity (Auerswald et al., 2019). In the future, the construction of levees can result in more adverse outcomes when improper strategies are used to handle infrastructure operations that officials use to curb flooding like levees (Breen et al., 2022). A change in the construction process of levees is imperative to ensure the existent norm of building higher levels in different areas gets solved. Another change in human activity is needed whereby some towns that can afford levees avoid building higher levels while nearby towns lack levees since flooding in those other areas can be common.
Description of Possible Actions
Humans can develop a sustainable solution of building a levee around their town so that flood waters will not get in, and this will be a suitable process proved by activities performed by residents of Valley Park town. The use of setback levees is a more feasible approach that would allow the river to overflow into wetlands on both sides (Vox, 2018). The action would deter residents who can afford to build higher levees from doing so as they will find it possible to adhere to government guidelines for building levees. More support for building levees inward and far from river banks as possible would allow proper management of flooding that will ensure all areas around a river get protected (O’Connell, 2019). Levees present improper geographical distribution when not constructed properly; thus, improvement of such conditions is imperative. All government officials and private organizations involved in building levees need to perform environmental assessments so that the management of flooding will be fair to all towns in flood-prone areas.
Auerswald, K., Moyle, P., Seibert, S. P., & Geist, J. (2019). HESS Opinions: Socio-economic and ecological trade-offs of flood management – benefits of a transdisciplinary approach. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 23(2), 1035–1044. https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-23-1035-2019.
Breen, M.J. Kebede, A.S., & König, C.S. (2022). The Safe Development Paradox in Flood Risk Management: A Critical Review. Sustainability, 14, 16955. https://doi.org/10.3390/ su142416955.
O’Connell, P.,M. (2019). Farmers and officials in Illinois and Missouri are desperately battling floodwaters along the Mississippi river. They’re also battling each other.
Vox. (2018). How “levee wars” are making floods worse [Video]. Youtube.