Levees of the Lower Arkansas River

Arkansas River McClellan-Kerr Navigation Charts

Forty-two levees along the Arkansas River in Arkansas protect 753,180 acres of residential and farm land. These levees have prevented more than $523 million in damages. The levees are constructed by the federal government and are maintained by a levee board districts and local interests, except for government assistance as necessary during major floods.

 Periodic inspections of maintenance are made by personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and from local levee and drainage districts as it is essential that the levees be maintained in good condition for their proper functioning in the flood control plan.

Early tent city of levee construction employees and family.There are four major drainage basins in the lower Mississippi River Valley Project: St. Francis in east Arkansas; Yazoo in northwest Mississippi; Tensas in northeast Louisiana; and Atchafalaya in south Louisiana. There are five flood control reservoirs in the tributary basin improvement plan: Wappapello Lake in the St. Francis Basin, and four lakes -- Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid, and Grenada -- in the Yazoo Basin. ( Picture of Early Levee Building Tent City Camp - click to enlarge )

The Mississippi River and Tributaries Project Act 138 of 1859; This act created the first publicly financed levees.
Online National Levee Database:  http://nld.usace.army.mil/egis/f?p=471:1:

Real-Time River water flow - Data for Arkansas

Sec. 648. Arkansas River levee and bank protection

Abundance and distribution of fish in Arkansas river wetlands.
Funded by Arkansas state wildlife Grant

Below is an Article from the New York Times on Allotments for building Levees in Arkansas dated December 1, 1886.
Click to enlarge

Most do not meet current design criteria and have deteriorated drainage structures or failing side slopes. Many are past their 50-year economic life. Section 110 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1990 authorizes rehabilitation and reconstruction to bring existing federal levees into compliance with current design standards.

The 1991 Arkansas River Basin, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Feasibility Report updated in 1995 determined that rehabilitation of 13 levee units in Arkansas would be economically justified.

Potential non-federal sponsors were identified, and a priority list was established to accomplish the work based on levee conditions. Reconstruction of the levees could proceed if funds are received and the project cost shared with two non-federal sponsors at 35 percent.

Congress last added funds for this project in the amount of $99,000 in the FY05 Energy and Water appropriation to continue this effort.

Little Rock District conducted site inspections of Ft. Smith, Van Buren, and North Little Rock levees and have completed a report of findings.

The report recommended that plans and specifications be prepared for the Van Buren levee system and economics should be updated for all of the levee systems along the Arkansas River.

Non-federal sponsors have been unable to cost share in the past.

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Arkansas River Levees Many are Not Maintained.