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Plastic Installed to Protect Key Levee

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 12 May 2011 10:17am | comments
The flood (left) is nearly over the levee. The black is plastic.

The US Army Corp of Engineers is taking unprecedented steps to protect vital Mississippi levees from the historic flooding. Workers have put down 5 miles of heavy plastic sheeting on the Yazoo Backwater to protect it from erosion. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that water is expected to start over topping that levee sometime next week.

The Yazoo Backwater levee is a key levee protecting a huge portion of the Mississippi Delta from flooding.

Peter Nimrod with the Mississippi Levee board says workers have installed plastic sheeting along five miles of the levee to protect it when flood water over tops the levee.

"What happens is when water come over the top of the levee in an overtopping event, not a whole lot of water comes over, but that energy could eat away at that levee and erode it away and eventually that levee would breech. If this levee would breech or fail, water would actually go up to a level of 106. You would gave 1.2 million acres flooded in the Mississippi south delta. You would have 4-thousand homes flooded," Nimrod said.

The plastic is 20-times thicker than a garbage bag and flexible to contour to the shape of the levee.

It is made by American Environmental Group, an Ohio-based company founded by Peter Augustine.

"We use it quite frequently in the closure of landfills. We also use it in lining the bottom of landfills. And in the mining industry and in leech fields and various applications like that. But it makes sense. We do use it for drainage structures out on landfills so the principal seems solid," Augustine said.

The Army Corp called Augustine this past weekend and he rushed the plastic down to Mississippi.

It took nearly 150 workers almost a week to roll out the heavy plastic and weight it with sandbags. Worker Tommy Jolly helped put the plastic in place.

"One person doesn't handle it by himself. It takes a whole bunch. I think we had ten people just to roll it off the rolls. It is great to know we are doing something useful," Jolly said.

The water is expected to start flowing over the levee several days before the flood crest hits Vicksburg late next week.

The army corp says the levee will hold despite the over topping....a failure by this levee would add an additional 9 or 10 feet of water to the delta, devastating the region.


The flood (left) is nearly over the levee. The black is plastic.



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