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Union county officials working to prevent a levee breach

UNION COUNTY (WSIL) — Flooding continues to be a concern along the Mississippi River and local communities are doing everything they can to stay above water.

Union County Emergency Management Coordinator, Dana Pearson says they are working nearly non-stop to prevent a levee breach but even without a breach flooded roadways and flooded farmland have officials and local residents concerned.

Michael Davis, a Union County resident, says, "If water was to get in and damage, I wouldn’t come back. No, like I said it use to be every 10 to 15 years but now it seems like it’s every two to three years."

With flooding becoming more and more frequent for communities along the river, Union County officials are now trying out a brand new piece of equipment thanks to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Pearson explains, "We’ve got this Aqua Dam here and you see how they’ve laid it out, they’ve pumped water in there from the ditch. We’ve basically got two feet of water on top of those sand boils to equalize the pressure."

The Aqua Dam is a temporary fix but saves a lot of money and labor in the long run. If the Aqua Dam wasn’t being used they would have to resort to sandbags.

Pearson says, "Our initial assessment of this: we had a 3,000 foot section we were thinking about doing, they estimated that it was going to take 30,000 sandbags."

Those 30,000 sandbags would have to be filled at Wolf Lake and then brought back to the levee and stacked three or four feet high, but the precautionary steps are necessary.

Pearson explains, “It starts taking mud from the levee, instead of pushing this sand or water up, it starts taking some of this. We don’t like it when it turns dirty cause we know it’s getting into the levee and then that’s when we’ve got to worry about it, if it starts eating away at the levee, it could implode.”

Folks in the community remain hopeful but are ready should they need to leave.

Davis says, "As long as I get more than a moment’s notice, then I’m ready to go. I mean, if I have to. I hope not, but you never know."

The Aqua Dam is not the only approach they are taking. They are applying a more permanent fix along various portions of the levee where sand boils are also an issue by covering them with rock. Crews have been continuously hauling rock in and out of the area.

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