ABC 17 News has been monitoring Missouri levees after the large amount of rain Mid-Missouri has seen over the last few weeks.
The levees have to stay structurally sound because giant, man-made hills are the last line of defense against the Missouri River. That responsibility falls largely on landowners.
“This protects the farm lands and other structures from flooding,” said land owner Bill Lepage.
Agriculture is one of Missouri’s biggest industries and it’s something that needs to be protected from flood waters.
That protection is provided by enormous barriers called levees.
Landowners like Lepage are charged with their upkeep.
“We’re responsible. We do maintenance on it. Keep it mowed, keep animals from burrowing in it, maintain our pipes and pumps,” said Lepage.
Lepage is a member of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association.
He and hundreds of other stakeholders keep water levels and river conditions under constant watch.
The association was started shortly after the massive amount of flooding on the Missouri River in 1993.
“The decided they’d better have some kind of an organization that could be representative of the stakeholders like landowners, businesses, cities. It’s mainly for representation.”
The association also governs which repair projects to finance and which ones not to.
They do that by assessing the benefits of what the levee is protecting. For instance, a less valuable piece of land, would be given a lower priority.
“If you have a highway that your levee is protecting, water lines, fiber optic lines, sewer lines, things like that, they’re all considered benefits.”
It’s clear to see the barriers are doing their jobs, and the water level has to be much higher than it has been this year to overtake the levee in Jefferson City.