Corps breaks ground for drainage projects

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Linda Holland, commanding general of the Mississippi River Division of the Army’s Corps of Engineers, delivers remarks at the recent ground-breaking for projects covering the St. Francis River Drainage District of Greene and Clay Counties.

A pair of major projects to control the damage from water in Greene and Clay County has seen a groundbreaking recently.

“There has been a major problem with debris clogs south of Highway 90 and east of Rector,” said H.T. Moore, on the board of the St. Francis River Drainage District of Clay and Greene Counties, which manages the area. “They cause flooding and sometimes you can walk on them.”

Seep water in the area of Big Island, south of U.S. Highway 412 between Greene 934 and 936 Roads, can often damage levees meant to control flooding.

The projects, for which ground was broken on Aug. 24, adjacent to the St. Francis River levee off Highway 90 just west of the St. Francis River, seeks to construct multiple seepage remediation projects in Northeast Arkansas and neighboring Southeast Missouri.

According to information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the combined Below Piggott Seepage Remediation/Below Highway 90 Channel Cleanout project, is located in Clay and Greene Counties. These projects will work together to improve flows along the St. Francis River by removing sedimentation in a 5-1/2-mile stretch of the river and constructing about 10 miles of seepage berm to improve levee stability and reduce risk to the system. The project is to begin this month, with construction scheduled for completion by July 2023. The local partner for the project is the St. Francis Drainage District of Clay/Greene Counties, and the prime contractor is Pontchartrain Partners.

The Big Island Seepage Remediation project in Greene County aims to reduce the risk of under-seepage (as noted above). Construction of two seepage berms about one-half mile in length along with drainage ditch work and levee resurfacing along the existing levee crown for almost three miles will reduce this risk. Work began in May 2020, and May 2022 is the expected date of completion. The local partner for the project is Mud Slough Drainage District No. 1, and the prime contractor is SYTE Corporation.

Moore said the cost of the projects in total is $13.6 million, and it is expected to take five years to complete. “And what makes this a big deal,” he said, “is that the Mississippi River Commission visited here for the first time since the 1960s.”

According to its website, the Mississippi River Commission, headquartered in Vicksburg, Miss., provides water resources, engineering direction and policy advice to the Administration, Congress and the Army in a drainage basin that covers 41 percent of the United States and parts of two Canadian provinces. Moore said the Commission makes two trips a year along the course of the river to hold hearings on resources, engineering and policy in various locations along the river.

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