Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Army Corps of Engineers, city update Cape flood wall

Monday, October 1, 2012
The United States Army Corps of Engineers will do maintenance on the flood walls. The City of Cape Girardeau has approved the requested updates and will begin soon. Photo by Nathan Hamilton

The Cape Girardeau levee and floodwall system, which was built in the 1960s, has worn down with age. Like any constantly functioning water system, the wall was in need of repair.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers noticed several maintenance projects that needed to be performed on the wall and other parts of the flood-control system and chose to step in and make those updates in 2008.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that the Cape Girardeau levee system had unwanted vegetation, erosion and pump station and floodwall deficiencies when tested.

Cape Girardeau's storm water coordinator, Stan Polivick specified that Cape Girardeau was not experiencing anything that should spark major concern among the citizens. The updates that need to be done on the wall were all a part of making things more efficient.

"When a system like this has been active for over 50 years maintenance is required," Polivick said. "The major updating the Army Corps provided were the new controls and digital systems it put in place, making everything more high-tech."

Along with providing new controls and electrical systems throughout all of the technology used down on the riverfront, which help with making things more timely and efficient, the Corps also updated the two pump stations.

The purpose of the two pump stations is to control the water when the river is at or above flood stage. When that happens, the city closes a gate to prevent the river water from flowing back into town and the rainwater from flowing back into the river.

The total cost of all of the repairs that the Corps provided was roughly $10 million.

Polivick said keeping the floodwall in good condition allows the city of Cape Girardeau to remain updated, which ultimately allows businesses to purchase cheaper flood insurance.

"Keeping things updated ensures or preserves the standing of the properties behind the wall regarding their flood insurance," Polivick said.

Based on Federal Emergency Maintenance Agency standards, the dam system must meet certain requirements in order for surrounding businesses to benefit from less expensive flood insurance policies.

Some of those standards include structural integrity of the levee system, the height of the levee, the proper functioning of the pump stations, the proper closure structures where openings in the levee exist and proper maintenance of the levee.

"Once the standards were met, or re-met, the city was able to maintain its current flood protection plan," Polivick said.

From business owners to consumers, all will reap the financial and eco-friendly benefits of having a more updated and better functioning levee system. On top of the Army Corps updates, the city of Cape Girardeau is also looking to add some improvements.

"The repairs the city are undertaking are to address the need for larger steel reinforcing in the foundation of the Themis Pedestrian Gate in order to meet current design criteria," Polivick said.

The city has approved these plans and will begin construction soon.