Public hearing Wednesday on southern Illinois levees - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Public hearing Wednesday on southern Illinois levees

GRAND TOWER, IL (KFVS) -

The Mississippi River is low right now, but when the water comes up the concerns of those who live nearby will overflow.

Wednesday night, the public will be able to voice some of those concerns to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps wants to construct several new wing dams in the middle of the Mississippi River. A Corps spokesman says the project would increase the speed of the river's channel. That would mean the river would require less dredging to keep barge traffic moving.

"Basically they [wing dams] steer the energy of the river into the main channel and help keep itself scoured," said Corps Spokesman Michael Petersen. "So it saves a lot of money, it's less invasive, and it keeps commerce moving on the Mississippi."

People who live in river towns in the area from Grand Tower to Thebes worry the new structures could put additional pressure on the already weakened levees that protect their communities. The fear is the new structures will raise the water level in the Mississippi which would in turn raise the water level of the Big Muddy River which and would stress levees which are already prone to slides and drain failures. The corps spokesman says folks should not worry.

"We've found that river training structures don't affect water elevations during flood," said Petersen. "We understand folks' concerns and we are trying to share as much of the science and let them know we are not going to put anything in the river that's going to cause them any kind of harm."

Wednesday night, members of the public, students and scientists are expected to voice concerns at the public hearing scheduled to take place starting at 6 p.m. with an open house at Shawnee High School in Wolf Lake, Illinois. The public comment section of the public hearing will follow at 7 p.m.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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