Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Intentional Flooding of America's Heartland

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the best-laid-dams dept.

Earth 477

Hugh Pickens writes "Joe Herring writes that sixty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the process of taming the Missouri by constructing massive dams at the top to moderate flow to the smaller dams below, generating electricity while providing desperately needed control of the river's devastating floods. But after about thirty years of operation, as the environmentalist movement gained strength throughout the seventies and eighties, the Corps received a great deal of pressure to include specific environmental concerns into their Master Water Control Manual, the 'bible' for the operation of the dam system, as preservation of habitat for at-risk bird and fish populations soon became a hot issue among the burgeoning environmental lobby. The Corps began to utilize the dam system to mimic the previous flow cycles of the original river, holding back large amounts of water upstream during the winter and early spring in order to release them rapidly as a spring pulse. 'Whether warned or not, the fact remains that had the Corps been true to its original mission of flood control, the dams would not have been full in preparation for a spring pulse,' writes Herring. 'The dams could further have easily handled the additional runoff without the need to inundate a sizable chunk of nine states.' The horrifying consequence is water rushing from the dams on the Missouri twice as fast as the highest previous releases on record while the levees that protect the cities and towns downstream were constructed to handle the flow rates promised at the time of the dam's construction."

cancel ×

477 comments

Red herring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575438)

This story sounds like a red herring.

What surprized me is that the levees are such exceptionally feeble things.

Re:Red herring (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575468)

Why would it surprise you? Americans aren't known for manufacturing durable and reliable products, whether they be consumer-grade goods or larger engineering works.

Indeed, virtually everything successful that America has built has been the work for foreigners. The Erie Canal, railways, Hoover Dam and most NYC skyscrapers were built by European and Asian migrant workers. The nuclear program was the work of Europeans. The space program was mainly the work of Germans.

Any time that Americans try to build something, they just can't do it well. That's why the Asian automotive manufacturers were able to absolutely devour the American market in such a short period of time, for instance.

Re:Red herring (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575474)

What surprised me is that the people who originally lived in new orleans 100+ years ago because it was a nice smooth flat place found out why it was like that when it flooded the first spring. Instead of getting a clue and moving somewhere else, they just kept building there right up to today.

Hey dipshits, if I built a home in the mouth of a volcano, would anyone feel bad when it erupted?

And don't give me that stupid infographic of places where there is a 1% risk of tornado per year. New orleans is in the path of the biggest river in this country that has a 100% chance of floods every year.

Live somewhere else or quit crying when it floods, morons.

Re:Red herring (-1, Flamebait)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36575706)

For anyone who can't read the racist numbnut dogwhistles: The parent translates straightforward to "The uppity niggers had it coming."

Re:Red herring (2)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | about 3 years ago | (#36575828)

Funny, thought NO was founded by the French missed the part where African nations colonized Louisiana and made that 'stupid' decision.

Re:Red herring (1)

turtledawn (149719) | about 3 years ago | (#36575840)

The city was not founded by blacks. Parent post may or may not be inspired by latent racism, but it is impossible to tell intent from the words as written.

Re:Red herring (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36575892)

True, but I give the GP the benefit of the doubt when you show me comparable posts before Kathrina, which definitely hit the poorer quarters with predominantly black population hardest.

GREEN bytch-slapping (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575462)

No doubt the snake-worshiping flood-frolicking GREEN bytch-boyz need a solid bytch-slapping. No doubt their implemented policies have led to huge increases in poverty and risk-increase to American citizens. Their snake-goddess heroine Gaia ... Queen of rabies and ectopic pregnancy and starvation needs to be exposed for the horror rejecting all human value that **is** the natural environment.

Re:GREEN bytch-slapping (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575478)

Testify, bro.

Well, You're dammed if you do... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575464)

And you're dammed if you don't.

Too Many (1, Insightful)

glorybe (946151) | about 3 years ago | (#36575472)

Growth and over population are at the root of this. We can not destroy nature and yet we need land urgently to raise crops and house the ever rising population. Science can not save us form total stupidity. Roll back birth rates and leave larger sections of the land unaffected and free of human uses or else we will pay a price we can not afford.

Re:Too Many (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575502)

With unemployment at nearly 10%, it seems like there are two easy solutions: ban the unemployed from procreation (best by permanent chemical sterilization) or just euthanize all of those people not willing or able to contribute to society.

Re:Too Many (1)

jasmusic (786052) | about 3 years ago | (#36575614)

Oh yeah, Hitler? From liberal to monster, before our very eyes.

Re:Too Many (2)

xaoslaad (590527) | about 3 years ago | (#36575844)

This has been done before. Went over very poorly. See NC now looking to compensate their victims: http://www.google.com/search?q=nc+sterilization+victims [google.com]

In one of the testimonies I heard on the radio it seems a woman was sterilized at least partly because she was deemed promiscuous for having a child before being married. She was in fact raped. Others were sterilized without their knowledge because they were poor. They didn't find out until they were married and tried to have their first children. Whites and blacks. Mostly the poor.

I am the first to say we should reduce the population but lets make sure we start by sterilizing anyone who signs such a practice into law a second time.

Re:Too Many (0, Troll)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 years ago | (#36575884)

Just because the first attempts were screwed up doesn't mean the idea isn't valid. It just means that it needs a bit more thought put into implimentation.

Re:Too Many (1)

L-four (2071120) | about 3 years ago | (#36575504)

China can do i why cant we?

Re:Too Many (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575610)

speak engrish i

you do me too ok?

Re:Too Many (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 3 years ago | (#36575692)

Because our constitution doesn't permit government to have that kind of power over people's lives. Also note, that population rises are starting to level off without it. For the first time in US history, white babies are a minority. When brown people become more affluent, their numbers will likewise not increase so fast and possibly decrease.

My mother had seven siblings, I had only one sister, I only have two kids myself. When your kids are likely to die before adulthood, you need more of them.

Re:Too Many (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575854)

Because our constitution doesn't permit government to have that kind of power over people's lives.

At least, not until flooding can be categorized as a form of terrorism.

Re:Too Many (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575558)

That's never going to happen. That area of the US is home to some of the poorest, stupidest and most religious folk around. The only other comparable area is the Deep South.

When you combine poverty with ignorance and idiocy, the birthrate shoots through the roof. We end up with millions of useless people who consume a great deal, but contribute nothing back to society as a whole.

The welfare and social assistance provided by the coastal states, where the average intelligence is much higher and the people there are net producers of social benefit, is what enables this.

While states like California and Massachusetts should do everything in their power to offer their own citizens affordable health care, quality public education and other basic social benefits, they shouldn't provide so many undeserved handouts to the people in the Midwest and Deep South. Let those people suffer. Let them fend for themselves. By doing so, they'll need to figure out how to become productive citizens, on their own. Soon enough they'll smarten up and realize that welfare moms shitting out 4 to 6 kids each, just so they can collect more welfare, isn't a good idea.

Re:Too Many (-1, Troll)

jasmusic (786052) | about 3 years ago | (#36575666)

States like California and Massachusetts are broke as a joke because their efforts to control peoples' lives and transactions and confiscate their property in the name of "social welfare" are chasing out taxpayers at a ridiculous rate. They habitually endorse only enough freedom to debase any moral order and use laws to arbitrarily lock down the rest. Liberalism and its bastard child environmentalism are religions only worse, because they ignore centuries of empirical data (booksmart with the wrong books) and rather than just try to interpret God, they try to BE God, leading to horror after horror. Such as your statements deciding who is worth what and what should be done against each person you dislike. Go ahead and log in before posting your bullshit.

Re:Too Many (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575720)

Shut the fuck up, moron.

There is no god to "interpret". There never was.

Like it or not, we're all we've got. And fools like you who would rely on a "god" to tell you what to do are the worst of the worst, the lowest of the dregs of humanity.

Take your foolish drivel somewhere else. If you post here, you'll be treated like the fool you are.

Re:Too Many (2, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 3 years ago | (#36575810)

Wow, the Malthusian liberal line is out in force today.

South and North Dakota's use of federal money has nothing whatsoever to do with welfare moms and to high a birth rate.

Federal funds come into the Midwest in the form of farm subsidies and or the Dakotas, in the form of money going to Indian reservations. Those reservations are a prime example of how federal handouts don't work, but are the last spending that the liberal elites in the states you mentioned would end.

Very good arguments to end farm subsides do exist, though.

Your comments however are standard costal elitist verbal vomit.

The gist of this story asks whether the Corps could have avoided the unmitigated devastation they're raining down on these communities.

As an engineer myself, I do have some spathy as to their predicament. They're faced with some hard challenges. But as a South Dakotan, I know for a fact that management of the dams has become much more about politics than it is about science. Figuring out what the policy needs to be to prevent being in this situation again must be a top priority.

I really believe that there are engineering solutions that will prevent this happening again in the future. I fear that there are political solutions that will guarantee that this happens again in the future.

But getting back to your comment. Your comment is hateful bile that is of no value at all to anyone.

Re:Too Many (0, Troll)

JWW (79176) | about 3 years ago | (#36575624)

Are you a fucking idiot? Do you know the population densities of the areas being flooded? Some of these towns are literally in the middle of nowhere. But these towns, small as they may be are getting hammered by a flood that was avoidable if the Corps had stayed true to their mission of flood control.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with population, and everything to do with environmental whack jobs showing how truly stupid they are.

The Corps needs to be included in the dictionary alongside the term "epic fail".

Re:Too Many (4, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | about 3 years ago | (#36575762)

No the people building million dollar homes on the banks of a river that floods yearly, are the failures here.

If they released water at the wrong time of the year it could wreck havoc on the fish population, which would result in people complaining that the corps is a failure for letting the fish die that the fishermen depended on.

Rock and a hard place. Frankly the fact that they have been able to control as much flooding as they have, with the resources they have speaks volumes.

In our country at this time we dont seem to want to fund our infrastructure. So when it cannot meet our needs, do we blame ourselves for not paying for stronger levies? No, we blame the people who have done the most with the least, because we failed to pay for the damn shit.

I personally expect to see more complaints like this, when our bridges fail, and our damns fail, and our power systems fail. I can see it now, asshats like you saying "Those damn (Insert government agency) failed to build a damn in the 40s that could last 70 years."

Fuck off.

Re:Too Many (3, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | about 3 years ago | (#36575876)

Infrastructure is not the problem here. These dams are engineering marvels. True, they were built in the 60's, but they are working today exactly as designed. This has nothing to do with our issues with regards to infrastructure funding. It has everything to do with years of above expected rainfall in the plains, and the Corps failure to account for that. Now it could be that rainfall has increased so much that this was really unavoidable, but in the wake of this an investigation into what the Corps policies should be is absolutely required.

Re:Too Many (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575880)

The main point I was able to derive out of the article is that the Corps missed a key requirement (protection of endangered species) when they were drafting the flood control plan.
Blaming environmentalists for the Corp's mistake is shooting the messenger.

Re:Too Many (1, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36575630)

The clear reason for the current rate of population growth in the United States is immigration.

I am aware that the idea is relatively unpopular, but we are going to have to cut back on immigration if we want to solve these problems.

Re:Too Many (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575722)

(I'm from Missouri/Kansas) In case you're wondering, there are FEWER people living in the affected areas because so many people have moved out of the country and small towns to large cities which sprawl far away from the rivers. In my grandparents' town of 250, there used to be about 1000 living there. In KC, there is never any new development on the rivers except for casino "riverboats."

There may be problems caused by immigration, but flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers isn't one of them. Unless you say that all the farming that happens in the midwest shouldn't happen....

Re:Too Many (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36575770)

"There may be problems caused by immigration, but flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers isn't one of them."

I didn't say it was. My reply was to someone who was blaming population growth. I replied with a comment about controlling population growth. But I never implied a causal connection between the two. That was the other guy.

Re:Too Many (2)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 3 years ago | (#36575648)

I fail to see the link between floods and growth+population. Care to elaborate ?

News Flash (1, Insightful)

Gator (16820) | about 3 years ago | (#36575480)

Move out of the flood zones or buy flood insurance. Its no different than the people that blamed the Army Corps when New Orleans flooded. Wake up people, you're living below sea level (New Orleans) or living in the 100 year flood plain (Midwest). What did you really think was going to happen?

Re:News Flash (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575536)

Move out of the flood zones or buy flood insurance. Its no different than the people that blamed the Army Corps when New Orleans flooded. Wake up people, you're living below sea level (New Orleans) or living in the 100 year flood plain (Midwest). What did you really think was going to happen?

I live there, I have flood insurance. My insurance company wont cover a single cent because the flood is man made. Now what smart ass?

Re:News Flash (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575600)

Move out of the flood zones or buy flood insurance. Its no different than the people that blamed the Army Corps when New Orleans flooded. Wake up people, you're living below sea level (New Orleans) or living in the 100 year flood plain (Midwest). What did you really think was going to happen?

I live there, I have flood insurance. My insurance company wont cover a single cent because the flood is man made. Now what smart ass?

Wait, wait. Insurance companies exclude acts of God AND acts of man? Doesn't that mean they never pay out...oooooh.

The insurance business needs some serious fucking regulation.

Re:News Flash (1, Troll)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36575928)

The beauty of the free market in action...

Re:News Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575606)

He explicitly gave you the other option, dipshit. Move somewhere that doesn't predictably flood every year!

Re:News Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575638)

Rather than turn the heater on in the winter, dipshit, move somewhere that doesn't predictably get so cold every year!

Re:News Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575822)

Yes, dipshit, that's what I've done. That's why I live in Texas.

Re:News Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575856)

and how would you like it if all the niggers from new orleans came and lived nearby?

Re:News Flash (1)

SilentChasm (998689) | about 3 years ago | (#36575654)

Seriously? I'm just.... speechless. That's pretty low. How can it not cover the flooding that's happening? It's a flood and it's not your fault, you even took the precaution of flood insurance.

Re:News Flash (1)

Gator (16820) | about 3 years ago | (#36575688)

I'm perfectly okay with you going after the insurance industry. They deserve every bit of the mid westerner's ire. But the difference is, the insurance companies are deliberately screwing you out of your claim. The Army Corps was responding to a natural event. Even if there were no dams these areas would be flooding anyway.

Re:News Flash (1, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#36575702)

Don't live in a flood plain moron.

Re:News Flash (5, Informative)

berberine (1001975) | about 3 years ago | (#36575784)

Move out of the flood zones or buy flood insurance. Its no different than the people that blamed the Army Corps when New Orleans flooded. Wake up people, you're living below sea level (New Orleans) or living in the 100 year flood plain (Midwest). What did you really think was going to happen?

I live there, I have flood insurance. My insurance company wont cover a single cent because the flood is man made. Now what smart ass?

I moved to Western Nebraska several years ago. Nearly everyone along the Platte River in town is a business. Those in houses are 4 blocks or more from the river. In order to buy a house near the Platte River, you were required to buy flood insurance. Some folks I know have been told by their insurance companies that if/when their houses flood it won't be covered because they knowingly moved onto a flood plain.

Also, keep in mind that the Platte River doesn't flood every year here. Sometimes, there is a little flooding, but it never even gets near the businesses along the river and rarely goes out far enough to be a concern to houses. We have had a Spring that was unusually rainy and we are just now getting the snow melt from the Rockies.

Re:News Flash (1)

vivtho (834049) | about 3 years ago | (#36575576)

Do insurance companies actually sell flood insurance to people living in flood-prone areas?

Re:News Flash (1)

maxume (22995) | about 3 years ago | (#36575592)

Only the Federal government.

Re:News Flash (1)

jasmusic (786052) | about 3 years ago | (#36575680)

And yet people think this federal government is so intelligent to pull off a 9/11 conspiracy.

Re:News Flash (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36575674)

I agree 100% with the sentiment, but there is still blame to be placed on the Army Corp of Engineers for New Orleans. Not to mention the crooked politicians who spent money earmarked for levee improvements on other things.

Re:News Flash (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 3 years ago | (#36575742)

Can you name a single place in the US that isn't prone to some natural disaster? Earthquakes in California, hurricanes and tsunamis (remember, most of hese floods are worse than anything in over 100 years) on the coasts, tornados in the midwest, floods near rivers. No US citizen is safe from natural disasters.

Re:News Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575796)

Can you name a single place in the US that isn't prone to some natural disaster? Earthquakes in California, hurricanes and tsunamis (remember, most of hese floods are worse than anything in over 100 years) on the coasts, tornados in the midwest, floods near rivers. No US citizen is safe from natural disasters.

Central California? Possibly the most boring region on Earth.

Re:News Flash (2)

SilentChasm (998689) | about 3 years ago | (#36575834)

The Willamette Valley in Oregon is nice. River running down it so no droughts, mountains to the west so no tsunamis, mountains to the east so it's protected from the winds/weather from the east, there's places that are pretty safe from flooding (up on hills) and there hasn't seemed to be very many earthquakes. We do have rain and a few storms but nothing that major that happens often (unlike say a place called "Tornado Alley").

Only real problem seems to be pollen [pollen.com] . Can you guess where on the map the Willamette Valley is? Seriously,

Re:News Flash (1)

SlowCanuck (1692198) | about 3 years ago | (#36575886)

Move out of the flood zones or buy flood insurance. Its no different than the people that blamed the Army Corps when New Orleans flooded. Wake up people, you're living below sea level (New Orleans) or living in the 100 year flood plain (Midwest). What did you really think was going to happen?

You can say move - my question for you is, where are we going to get our food then? Those living in the Flood Plains, are in the most agriculturally qualified area in the US! Basically, if you plant it, it will grow. You don't get that type of option elsewhere, try and grow grain in the Rockies, or in downtown New York City - guess what - horrible from crops. Unless your proposing we pay $60 for a loaf of bread and shut all the family farms down and make it massive corporate farms only?

hindsight is a lovely thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575482)

"Like the stern lights of a ship, it illuminates only the track that is passed"

fuck hippies. (-1, Flamebait)

strack (1051390) | about 3 years ago | (#36575486)

fuck hippies.

Re:fuck hippies. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575498)

Yes, I recommend that - I married one.

Re:fuck hippies. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575550)

No don't do it that only makes more of them

Blaming environmentalists? (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 3 years ago | (#36575490)

Sen. Blunt characterized the current flooding as "entirely preventable" and told reporters that he intends to force changes to the plan.

Given the volume of water the Corps is trying to manage, that statement is unbelievable hogwash. Ignorance that goes far beyond the people who try to argue "intelligent design" has a scientific basis. It reminds me of the attempts to blame poor neighborhoods for the mortgage crisis, even though the overall default rate in poor, minority neighborhoods was lower than upper-middle class white neighborhoods.

Couldn't have anything to do with snow pack and rainfall being over double the norm, it's got to be those dang environmentalists.

Using natural and man-made disasters to demigod your political opposition. We really have turned into a pathetic bunch. This tripe doesn't belong on Slashdot.

Re:Blaming environmentalists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575546)

The authors premise is that had the ACE not abided by various environmentalists requests to mimic the natural flow of the river, then they would have been ready for this huge influx of water.

Is that blaming environmentalists, the ACE, or both?

Re:Blaming environmentalists? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 3 years ago | (#36575664)

both, mainly the ACE, who modified the use of the dams+levees system, in a way that is incompatible with its design.

Re:Blaming environmentalists? (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 3 years ago | (#36575562)

This just fits so nicely into the "Obama is trying to take our land and our money and our lives and give them all to the crackheads in the cities, under the direction of George Soros and the Illuminati" mythology. Of course it's complete hogwash (*drum sting*) but you can be assured that Senator Blunt has about as much relationship with the truth as the guy who spends all his time smoking blunts.

Re:Blaming environmentalists? (1)

jasmusic (786052) | about 3 years ago | (#36575690)

Ask California about the competence of federal water management.

Re:Blaming environmentalists? (2)

belthize (990217) | about 3 years ago | (#36575698)

Whether intentional or not I really like the use of demigod there (demagogue).

Re:Blaming environmentalists? (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 3 years ago | (#36575748)

Gah! My mistake. It's early...

Not Growth, not over population (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575514)

From reading the article, it sounds like the major cause of the flooding was not using the flood controls in the dam system but rather releasing water at twice the previous rate (150,000 ft^3 verse a peak of 75,000ft^3) which was not planned for in the downstream levies.

Nature floods, civil engineering prevents (or diminishes the risk) this from happening. Preventing this flooding opens up more land for crops.

Letting the world go back to nature means that billions of people would starve. The price we can not afford is letting 13 out of every 14 people starve, (going from a population of 7 billion back to 500 million).

American Thinker seems to have an agenda (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575524)

I've read several articles from this site forwarded by a friend. The articles were biased, used slippery slope logic, etc.

Now they are leveraging slashdot to boost their Google ranking.

Editor, please?

Flood plain (4, Insightful)

the_raptor (652941) | about 3 years ago | (#36575528)

If you don't want to get flooded don't live on a fucking flood plain.

Systems built around "average" rainfall will fail eventually because the climate is NOT stable on a year to year basis. You either build levees and dams for a once in a thousand years worst case scenario or you accept you will get the occasional massive flood that overwhelms systems built around "average" rainfall.

What actually happens is the dams and levees get built to handle the last major flood. That plan failed in Queensland Australia at the beginning of this year.

People need to accept that they don't have absolute control over their lives. Nature happens.

Re:Flood plain (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575580)

you're an ignorant fuck. The system wasn't designed for average rainfall. The system was designed for large rainfall and snowmelt. However, being forced to run the system in a different way has caused massive flooding.

Re:Flood plain (2)

the_raptor (652941) | about 3 years ago | (#36575824)

The "large rainfall and snowmelt" figures are based on statistical analysis of what mostly happens. ie they are average figures which was why the dam system was run the way it was. Exceptional weather events weren't taken correctly into account.

Re:Flood plain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575596)

People need to accept that they don't have absolute control over their lives. Nature happens.

I think the argument is being made that in this case, it was possible for these people to have more control had the resources been used properly. The enormous Three Gorges Dam in China was in large part constructed to control disasters such as this.

Re:Flood plain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575814)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baiji

Re:Flood plain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575716)

What actually happens is the dams and levees get built to handle the last major flood. That plan failed in Queensland Australia at the beginning of this year.

People need to accept that they don't have absolute control over their lives. Nature happens.

What happened in Queensland was that a dam that was built primarily for flood mitigation is now being relied upon to supply a large percentage of the water to the population of SE Queensland. As a result, more water is being held in storage than is safe for proper flood mitigation. When the flooding rains hit Queensland, the dam operators still didn't release water until it was too late. By the time they had no choice but to release water from the dam, the river system was already swollen from rain coming down the Bremer River into the Brisbane River.

There still would have been flooding without the dam release, but the untimely release made a bad problem a whole lot worse. Hydrologists estimate the dam release added up to 2 meters to the Brisbane River flooding.

Unless another dam is built for water security, the problem will recur the next time prolonged drought swings around again.

Re:Flood plain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575750)

The dams are designed for 500 year storm events and the runoff from said events you asshat.

Re:Flood plain (1)

the_raptor (652941) | about 3 years ago | (#36575878)

You say that like you think it will impress me. Even if the system was being run for a once in 500 year event (which it probably wasn't, because generally people like dams to be partially full for water security, recreational, and environmental reasons) obviously this event must have been more then a once in 500 year event.

Re:Flood plain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575782)

Would you build a house in an area that floods every 300 years? You might be surprised how many people (even you!) are included in such an unlikely scenario. Minot, ND hasn't seen this kind of water in generations. Like, probably before it was inhabited by Europeans.

The problem is that this seems to be happening a lot more often.

Re:Flood plain (1)

the_raptor (652941) | about 3 years ago | (#36575852)

I live in a flood prone area. I don't bitch and whine about floods when they happen. People need to understand that our climate has extremes that happen on very short geological time scales and plan accordingly.

Re:Flood plain (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36575818)

And if you don't want to break your leg, don't get out of your bed. If you don't want to get sick, well, better shoot yourself right now. Are you taking special glee in seeing other people suffer? Is mocking them after the fact giving you one of those really special hardons?

Blame the developers (5, Interesting)

KKBundy (2310464) | about 3 years ago | (#36575552)

Yeah. Yeah. Well I happen to live in Bismarck, one of the cities currently flooding. Although I sure they would have done things differently now, they have always warned this town that this was a possibility. Every time a huge development went in down by the river, the Corps was against it, but money talks and the city and county commissioners approved the measure, drooling over the taxes they'd get from million dollar houses on 150,000 dollar lots. I mean these people built several peninsulas of land out into the river so everyone could have water access. They took a great wetland area next to the river and forced its destruction through the meetings. This has happened on dozens of occasions, and now they are all yelling at the Corps. The Corps has constantly taken heat for the dam being too empty the last few decades and not considering tourism. The meetings have been rancorous to say the least. I'm not a big Corps fan having been in a bit of trouble with them myself (camping while canoeing on corp land) but let's put the blame where it really lies. With the developers who masterminded restructuring a river for their own profits. The Blessed Atheist Bible Study @ http://blessedatheist.com/ [blessedatheist.com]

Re:Blame the developers (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#36575644)

One of the basic tenets of building is that you don't do it on a flood plain. Yes, that means that vast portions of the midwest are basically only suitable for temporary dwellings. There's nothing wrong with that. Population densities are low anyway.

Whole cities which lie entirely on a flood plain are dumb.

Re:Blame the developers (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575684)

Every time a huge development went in down by the river, the Corps was against it, but money talks and the city and county commissioners approved the measure, drooling over the taxes they'd get from million dollar houses on 150,000 dollar lots.

I have observed that many times, real estate developers and county or city commissioners are one and the same - or at least closely tied together.

Most of the time on the local level, people who go into public office are doing so to help their personal and business interests. Most of my local politicians up to the state level are business people - and it's unsurprising, to me anyway, the things that business gets away with.

Re:Blame the developers (1)

turtledawn (149719) | about 3 years ago | (#36575890)

mostly irrelevant to the discussion, but did you have a fire while you were camping? At least here in my area, the Corps doesn't mind people camping on their property as long as there are no fires of any sort.

trolling think tanks (5, Insightful)

jonpublic (676412) | about 3 years ago | (#36575560)

Hmm, the american thinker article seems pretty trollish, utilizing descriptions that I would generally find in political hate speech, blaming environmentalists for the flooding. The articles point isn't to find root cause, but to spread hate at environmental groups.

A quick google search reveals that the american thinker is indeed a conservative online magazine. I would hope that folks realize there is a war of information out there between extremes of the political spectrum and that we are better off not spreading those words of hate. The extremists are always going to be looking to enlist you in their war, by claiming the other side is outrageous.

Re:trolling think tanks (1, Insightful)

Kizeh (71312) | about 3 years ago | (#36575626)

I read (http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/news/article_224526f0-9af5-11e0-84b8-001cc4c03286.html) that some of the main drivers for the elevated water levels were the shipping and fishing industry that lobbied their demands into the manual. Oddly enough, I suppose the fishing and tourism industry have largely similar interest as the "environmentalists" as far as the water levels. Still, original sounds indeed like conservative propaganda being propagated on people's misery.

Spring Pulse or Summer Generation? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 3 years ago | (#36575568)

Perhaps if they had not been holding back water for future electricity generation, there would be adequate capacity for both the Spring pulse and flood control. Seems silly blame the fish for the water.

The Master Water Control Manual (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575634)

Can be found here.. http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wrc/docs/MasterManualMarch2006.pdf

Let me be the first to say: FUCK EM (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575642)

It's high time that "the Heartland" pulled their heads out of Jeebus's butthole long enough to realize that we're fucking up our climate. FUCK EM.

Re:Let me be the first to say: FUCK EM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575896)

lulz, It's funny to listen to you city dwellers spout your nonsense, please keep up the good work.

Why should I read this? (5, Informative)

jamie (78724) | about 3 years ago | (#36575646)

Who the hell is Joe Herring and why should I trust anything he writes? Did Slashdot review his scholarship here and give it a stamp of approval, or was it just put up on the website, leaving it to the readers to decide whether it's B.S. or not?

No qualifications or expertise are claimed for Joe Herring on the website. In fact no information on his background is given except that he is "from Omaha, NE." This is highly unusual for a publication that hopes to be taken seriously. We don't even know if that is his real name.

We are left to judge the value of this Joe Herring essay by his previous contributions [americanthinker.com] and by the reliability and reputation of the website that publishes his work.

Joe Herring is, in short, a right-wing nut.

He claims all leftists [americanthinker.com] -- all! -- want to overthrow the Constitution: "The continuum on the left that ranges from the 'wouldn't it be nice if we all just smiled' types to the hardcore authoritarian communists may disagree about methods, but sadly, all agree on one thing: if their utopia is to come about, the Constitution -- and the form of government derived from it -- must be replaced with...something."

He says the Nazis were left-wingers [americanthinker.com] : "The Left will not willingly lay claim to the true legacy of socialism, so we will have to hang it around their necks."

He believes that the true goal of health care reform, renewable-energy subsidies, and regulations on Wall Street is for "the left" to seize power and exterminate half of the human race. Really [americanthinker.com] : "As the federal government asserts control over health care, energy production, and the financial markets, the trinity of power is within the left's grasp. Unless driven back from their goals -- and quickly -- the likelihood grows daily that more than four billion of our 'species' will be joining the table scraps and yard clippings on the compost pile."

He thinks the problem with Politifact's [politifact.com] 2009 Lie of the Year, "death panels," is that the right wasn't lying hard enough [americanthinker.com] : "To describe this board as a 'death panel,' as Rush Limbaugh has, is to underestimate its power and misconstrue its purpose."

And five minutes with Google reveals that American Thinker is a source that, shall we say, lends no additional credibility to Joe Herring's contributions. Take global warming as a typical example. They printed essays claiming to have found a "smoking gun" that disproves global warming (wrong [skepticalscience.com] ). Then they found another single argument that by itself disproves global warming [americanthinker.com] (still wrong [skepticalscience.com] ). They argue that global warming is a Nazi lie [americanthinker.com] .

This "intentional flooding" piece looks like yet another right-wing hit job on leftism. I would be happy to entertain the idea that misguided environmentalism is partially to blame for one disaster or another, but I would like to hear a reasoned argument from someone who's not a nut.

Re:Why should I read this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575730)

Well-spoken from a left-wing nut that uses his job to further his political agenda. Oh wait, you are basically doing exactly what you accuse someone else of doing.

A number of the "points" you make are valid differences of opinion. The nazis were right-wing if you reduce everything in politics down to the single question of race. On a huge number of other measures they were what you would expect from Nationalist-Socialists (as clearly distinguished from the modern movement of Internationalist-Socialists).

Your kind of evil is what makes me feel the Tea Party is a welcome and necessary addition to politics. Your kind need to be suppressed and removed so you cannot ply your fucked-up function and bias the world in favour of your mentality.

Re:Why should I read this? (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36575738)

Who Joe Herring is, is not the issue. It's not the messenger, it's the message. Unless you want to indulge in a lot of ad hominem arguments.

Of course the message leaves something to be desired. But that is the important part, not whether he is a lawyer from New York, or a plumber from Milwaukee.

Re:Why should I read this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575798)

You've got a terminal illness. The message is important right? Not the messenger who is, in this case, utterly unqualified to make such a statement.

Re:Why should I read this? (4, Insightful)

jamie (78724) | about 3 years ago | (#36575812)

If I'm being asked to trust what Joe Herring says because of who he is, then of course I need to know who he is. He doesn't present evidence to back up many of his assertions, he just writes stuff and hopes I'll believe it:

The Missouri River Recovery and Implementation Committee has seventy members [moriverrecovery.org] . Only four represent interests other than environmentalism. The recommendations of the committee, as one might expect, have been somewhat less than evenhanded.

Says who?

This year, despite more than double the usual amount of mountain and high plains snowpack (and the ever-present risk of strong spring storms), the true believers in the Corps have persisted in following the revised MWCM, recklessly endangering millions of residents downstream.

Says who?

Whether warned or not, the fact remains that had the Corps been true to its original mission of flood control, the dams would not have been full in preparation for a "spring pulse." The dams could further have easily handled the additional runoff without the need to inundate a sizeable chunk of nine states.

Says who?

Re:Why should I read this? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575758)

This is exactly right. The dams were NOT just built for flood control. They were built to generate electricity. When you empty out the reservoirs, you don't have any water to generate electricity.They were also built to allow navigation, and when you empty out the reservoirs you don't have water to sustain river flows for navigation. The claim that this was caused by environmental concerns is just wing-nut conspiracy theorist nonsense.

But it will get repeated over and over again until it is treated as common knowledge.

Re:Why should I read this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575790)

When you can't debate the issue, time to attack whoever delivered the message?

Re:Why should I read this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575910)

They argue that global warming is a Nazi lie

While the European Nazis think the global warming as a socialist and multiculturalist conspiracy. Irony is thick and multilayered on this one.

Not exactly -- there are engineering reasons too (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575670)

"'Whether warned or not, the fact remains that had the Corps been true to its original mission of flood control, the dams would not have been full in preparation for a spring pulse,'"

There's another aspect. Over time people have learned that if you completely moderate the annual flow of a river by flood control, the channels will silt up, whereas if you have a higher peak flow in the spring, the channels get flushed out. You may say "big deal, let them silt up", but allowing the channels to silt up means the channel itself has less capacity to contain the river's peak flows (less cross-sectional area), and there is a tendency for the bottom of the channel to get shallower, meaning that when the flood waters come, the levees on the banks are easier to overtop. Alternatively you can build those levees ever higher, the river bed silts up some, you build the levees higher again, and eventually the river gradient (slope) is reduced so much that when a levee failure does happen, the bottom of the river bed is well above the floodplain, and the whole thing drains out onto the floodplain even more catastrophically. This is what happens in some parts of China because of many centuries of levee building -- the river is perched high above the floodplain (e.g., the lower parts of the Yellow River [wikipedia.org] ).

Maintaining something that emulates the natural seasonal flow of the river in a moderated way is an important technique to maintain the system over the long-term in a more manageable state than if you adopt the principle to contain absolutely everything at all times and all circumstances. Peak spring flow flushes the system out. It's not a bunch of idealistic environmentalist/hippies constraining the engineers, it's the engineers themselves realizing the limitations of their previous approach, and that if they ignore what the river does over the long term, it will get harder and harder to control and eventually they'll lose the battle anyway. It's better to understand how the system works and adapt to it.

In short, don't believe a politician knows how the hell to manage a river system, or that they care much about what their decisions today will mean 20 or 50 years down the line, rather than the next election. You'd think a former history teacher would have a sense of perspective on these things. Blaming it on "environmentalists" is just a cheap political ploy.

One and done mentality (4, Interesting)

belthize (990217) | about 3 years ago | (#36575686)

The blog/post/whatever-that-was implies a false dichotomy. Yes the original flood control dams were designed to control flooding (hence the name), yes subsequent environmental understanding caused the release cycle to be more pulsed than continuous. The solution isn't to choose between the two, the solution is to re-invest and rebuild portions to accommodate both.

The mass funding of infrastructure improvements (bridges, interstates, dams, power) from the 1930's to 1960's was a good thing but we can't view them as a one and done process. They not only take maintenance they also need to be redone as they age and new understanding of their effects arise.

We must start taking a longer view, if the replacement infrastructure cost of all of those things is 10 trillion dollars (or some other number) and their average life cycle due to aging or other factors is 50 years then we need to start replacing them on that cycle of 200 billion/year. Part of the problem is that so much infrastructure was placed in so little time (10 to 20 years) it's all coming due at once.

Sadly we take a short term, one and done approach, we have a dam, why would we ever need to rebuilt it.

can you say Climate Change? (0)

gordona (121157) | about 3 years ago | (#36575696)

Cheerup, this is only the beginning with warming global temperatures, the atmosphere holding more moisture, more intense and frequent storms, yada yada yada.

---
if all your folly were changed to intelligence and divided amongst a thousand toads, each would be more intelligent than Aristotle.

Re:can you say Climate Change? (2, Interesting)

Eivind (15695) | about 3 years ago | (#36575816)

True enough. Simple physics.

When it's warmer, the same volume of air, can hold more water-vapour, AND more water evaporates from warmer seas.

But when more water goes up, more water must also come down, it's not as if it -accumulates- up there. Thus we'll get heavier rainfall.

Best-case, some of that rainfall comes in areas that need it, and where it causes more good than harm.

But unavoidably, some of it will come down at inconvenient times and or inconvenient places.

Another Twist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575740)

The damns and levees themselves are the root of the problem here. Just as New Orleans once had a natural barrier to hurricanes (ie the Mississippi Delta) that was eroded by levees and dams, the rivers have flood plains upon which we decided to dump cities on. You can get away with living on a flood plain to a certain extent, but erecting dams and levees simply silts up the river and effectively EXPANDS the floodplain and makes flooding more likely.

Dutch 500 BC solution: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36575744)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_dwelling_hill
An artificial dwelling hill ("Terp"), created to provide safe ground during high tide and river floods.
In 500 BC it was for keeping there feet, food and livestock dry, but it should work for computers, wide-screen TV's and SUV's just the same.

I wonder (1, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about 3 years ago | (#36575788)

what additional engineering measures will need to be
incepted and retrofitted to this system of dams in order to modernize them
in light of global warming and climate change?

had this system not been built, what would america have been like?
has our recent industrial farming (recent meaning ~30 years) affected the outcome of this system any?
how can it/should it scale in the future?

sure, the source of the article is ominous and i take anything i hear from someone who
tries to politicize or modernize the third reich with a grain of salt...but as slashdot readers we owe
it to ourselves to study the article with an objective scientific mind.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...