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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about floods in the Midwest.

July 3, 2008



The need for lasting solutions in flood plains

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In response to the June 18 article, "Why flooding worsens": If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we divert water to areas where they need it? We have the Alaskan oil pipeline, surely we could create temporary diversions before our levees breach? Why can't we anticipate this and divert water?

Margaret V. Barron
Henryville, Pa.

Regarding the recent article on Midwest flooding: Additional costs must be acknowledged. The loss of fertile topsoil and scarce fresh water must be added to those enumerated.

If the levee system were to include impoundment areas where the sediment can be captured and the water reverse-pumped into the aquifers, these precious resources could be reused. The soil could be distributed or sold to enrich depleted ground. The expanding of the aquifer will redistribute water to the region and help offset the loss created by overirrigation of crop land and loss of flood plains.

The recapture of flood waters would also help to reduce problems farther down the river. One area would not be passing its problem to its neighbor to solve.

Jim Dewitt
Southbury, Conn.

In response to the recent article on flooding in the Midwest: Years ago I read a proposal that diversionary channels be dug along river banks to control flooding. Locks at calculated intervals could prevent disaster. Obviously this was not done.

Developers built malls and parking lots paved with cement over acres of land that could absorb rain. Developers claim to study environmental impact reports, but little thought is given to the future. So Iowa sends floodwaters down to Missouri. When will developers be more responsible?

Marjorie Loudon Wallace
Redwood City, Calif.

Wild lands help prevent floods

In response to your June 24 editorial, "Biofuels put bucks over ducks": Having land in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) prevented even greater losses of crops to the floods. CRP land serves to absorb and slow down runoff that would have made the floods even worse. To plow CRP land would only make the next flood worse. Very shortsighted! Did we learn nothing from the report done after the 1993 floods? Had the recommendations in that report been followed, the disastrous 2008 floods would have been much less so.

John Schladweiler
New Ulm, Minn.

In response to your recent editorial in support of the Conservation Reserve Program: Industrial agriculture in general, and the rush to cash in on biofuels in particular, were major contributors to the severity of the recent Midwest floods.

Here in northeast Iowa, in counties cleared for federal disaster relief by President Bush, even a casual tour of flood-ravaged river bottoms illustrates the striking difference between riparian fields in CRP and those in corn. Acres set aside, including those on my own farm, suffered almost no erosion and retained most of their river-bank trees, while fields intensely farmed on either side were often severely damaged. On too many upland acres as well, farmers have plowed up erosion-control "grass waterways" and taken out windrows of trees for a few extra acres of corn.

Senator Grassley, whose farm policies have long ignored the environment, is risking far more than wildlife if he thinks CRP acres should be plowed up for more corn.

David Cavagnaro
Decorah, Iowa

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