The Issue

St. Louis Metro East Levee Improvement Initiative

Who & what do the levees protect?

150,000 residents, 4,000 businesses and 56,000 jobs located in the American Bottoms – a flood plain area that encompasses 25 individual communities in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties in Southwestern Illinois.

Where does the levee system begin and end?

The levee system includes five levees – Wood River, Chain of Rocks, Metro East, Prairie DuPont and Fish Lake. These levees extend from Wood River in Madison County south to Columbia in Monroe County, protecting an area that stretches east from the Mississippi River to Bluff Road. This region represents the second largest concentration of population in the Mississippi Corridor, after New Orleans.

Who are the stakeholders involved in this initiative?

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • The United States Corps of Engineers (USCOE)
  • Three Counties: Madison, St. Clair and Monroe
  • 25 communities (see sidebar for a complete list)
  • The Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council, representing the individual Flood Protection Districts serving each county
  • Four Levee Districts: Wood River, Metro East, Prairie DuPont and Fish Lake
  • The 150,000 residents and 4,000 business owners in those communities
  • East-West Gateway Council of Governments
  • Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois
  • The State and Federal Delegation representing Southwestern Illinois

Who are some of the major employers in the impacted areas?

  • Casino Queen, East St. Louis
  • Cerro Flow Products, Sauget
  • ConocoPhillips, Wood River
  • Gateway Regional Medical Center, Granite City
  • Touchette & Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital, East St. Louis
  • Kraft Foods, Granite City
  • Midcoast Aviation, Cahokia
  • Olin Corporation, East Alton
  • Solutia, Sauget
  • Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation, St. Clair County
  • Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center, East St. Louis
  • U.S. Steel, Granite City

What is the estimated cost to improve the levees?

The estimated costs for the levee improvements have ranged widely because of the differing approaches by the Corps of Engineers and the Flood Prevention District Council.  The primary responsibility of the Corps of Engineers is maintaining levees at the 500-year flood level standard, and their original scope of work had a price tag ranging from $350 – $500 million. The FPD Council developed an alternative, more cost-effective approach that improves the levees to the new 100-year standard and can be completed in a realistic timeframe. Their estimated budget for the project is $161 million, but meeting that budget and their timeline will require the ongoing cooperation of the Corps of Engineers during the design review and permitting process.

Key Milestones

Click here to read key milestones.