The Grand Tower levee is leaking


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

GRAND TOWER, Ill. - The levee in Grand Tower is in desperate need of millions of dollars worth of repairs.

The pipes in the levee are old and have rusted and started to leak and now, the added moisture is creating crater like holes in the levee itself.

There is no money in the budget to fix what is damaged so water from The Big Muddy is seeping into their farmlands.

If it is not stopped, it will eventually reach the homes in the small village of 800 residents.

The levee sits just parallel to Route 3 as you enter the town of Grand Tower.

It is supposed to be dry on both sides of the levee, but right now, both sides are under water.

Derek Misener, with Jackson County Emergency Management, was alerted that the levee in Grand Tower was under stress.

"With time being critical, we had to fill this leak before enough erosion occurred that we had a levee breach," said Misener.

So he went straight to work contacting IEMA and IDOT.

"Within a few hours, we had 19 IDOT vehicles in this rotation dumping as much gravel as possible," said Misener.

They used rocks to give the rusted out pipes as a temporary fix.

"They got it shut off in about ten hours, but it's washed a big void in our levee and it's caving in," said head of the Levee Commission Roger Cavness.

Cavness says the need for funding to make these repairs is crucial.

Both men agree, a breached levee or continuing leakage would be catastrophic.

"It would wash our levee out and flood everyone in Grand Tower and all the farm ground," said Cavness.

But funding is the issue.

The Levee Commission has a budget of only $13,000 a year.

Misener says that is barely enough to keep the levee mowed and maintained.

"There's really no money to line these lock pipes at 50 thousand a piece," said Misener.

He says federal funding is the only way this levee can be restored.

The Levee Commission in Grand Tower is working on applying for grants to get these leaks fixed so they can pass an inspection and begin to receive federal funding again.