59 Sign Photo

U.S. Highway 59 and the land around it heading into Missouri is once again a potential hot spot for high waters this spring as levee repairs wait.

The Rushville/Sugar Lake Levee sits with repairs not made while the Missouri River sits low for now.

The damage from the floods of 2019 left a significant breach in the levee system there. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on getting through legislation as is necessary for the type of repairs needed. This leaves U.S. Highway 59 and the houses and farmland vulnerable.

“We are wide open with no protection,” Lanny Frakes, secretary and treasurer of the Rushville-Sugar Lake Levee Association, said. “We are very concerned (about flooding) due to that we do not have any levee protection that would let water in.”

The concern is there, but the money is not.

“The Corps does not have the time nor money to facilitate the repair,” Frakes said. “As for the association, our money will have to go toward cost sharing with the Corps to repair that main levee.”

Frakes is talking about a temporary repair that could be in place while the complete levee repair goes through the legislative obstacles. But the temporary repair will not happen, as the levee district needs that for their local match of the cost share.

As previously reported by News-Press NOW, The Wetland Reserve Program owns 3 acres of land that is required to go through for the levee fix. The Corps of Engineers has been working with them and the Natural Resources Conservation Service over the last several months and is waiting to get the go ahead from Washington, D.C.

There were other options to get the fix done sooner. According to Frakes, if they decided not to go through WRP, there would be approximately 180 acres of farmland lost due to setting back of the levee.

“Quite honestly, they are too slow for a situation like this and time is of the essence,” Frakes said. “We need these repairs made. Some local landowners there are going to lose some acreage but not nearly as much as if we didn’t go through the WRP. “

The cost share for the levee fix is 80% federally funded and 20% locally. Of that 20% local match, a Community Development Block grant was approved by the county to cover 75% of the local match, leaving 5% for the levee district to pay.

The hope is for boots to be on the ground for the actual repair in the fall.

Zach Fisher can be reached at zach.fisher@newspressnow.com

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowFisher