Flood control and the failure of maintenance

Lambert Strether of Naked Capitalism wrote two good posts about how the floods in the Midwest reflect not only a changing climate, but a failure of government to maintain and improve flood control systems.

After disastrous floods in 1936, Congress authorized a construction program of dams, and channels to prevent a recurrence.  These dams and levees have not been maintained, with disastrous results.

One was a breach of the levees around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  Strether cited similar failures of infrastructure in the Midwest now.

In the 1930s, we Americans were capable of national efforts that served the common good.  Now we don’t seem to be able to maintain what we have, even when obviously necessary.

As Strether noted, a 21st century flood control program would be less about dams, levees and channels and more about protecting wetlands and moving development back from flood plains, so that flood waters can be soaked him instead of directed elsewhere.   But the principle is the same.  The nation needs to come together again.


‘Breaking Everywhere’: Flooding Bursts Midwest Levees and Tough Questions Follow by Mitch Smith and John Schwartz for the New York Times.

The New Deal, the Green New Deal and Flood Control by Lambert Strether for Naked Capitalism.

More on Flood Control: The Missouri River, the Levees and the Gavins Point and Spencer Dams by Lambert Strether for Naked Capitalism.

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4 Responses to “Flood control and the failure of maintenance”

  1. Benjamin David Steele Says:

    Americans are good at reacting. Something will be done only after a large-scale national catastrophe and crisis. Not before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. silverapplequeen Says:

    It’s not “the nation has to come together”. It’s our elected officials have to think of the nation & not themselves. We, the people, generally ARE together on these kind of things. We DON’T want our taxes to go to the ultra-rich. We DO want our taxes to do to rebuilding our nation’s bridges, levies, roads, schools, libraries, etc. The idea that people don’t want to pay taxes is a myth. Most people don’t mind paying taxes AS LONG as they’re going to things that are helping EVERYONE. There’s only a few people who really don’t want to do that, who think that’s communism or socialism or whatever “ism” they decide it is.


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