Coalition Report

By Maisah Khan, 
Clean Water Director
Coalition for the Environment


Floods, Floodplains, and FRAWG — Oh My

We have been busy tracking flooding response and floodplain developments at MCE. Last year was a devastating, destructive year when it came to flooding and extreme weather events in our state. It was the second-wettest year in the Missouri River basin since record-keeping began, the river spent a record 279 days above flood stage, and soil conditions remain extremely wet and saturated throughout most of the basin even now. Unfortunately, we do not anticipate the outlook for 2020 to offer much relief. 

Decades of intensive management and development along the lower Missouri River have stripped it of its natural recourse for high-water events — wetlands and floodplains. Hundreds of levees have cut the river off from much of its floodplain and to make matters worse, more and more private developments are cropping up behind those levees. 

Governor Parson appointed the Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group (FRAWG) last summer to look at the short, medium, and long-term impacts of flooding and provide recommendations for how to move forward. The FRAWG is tasked with submitting a report to the Governor by May 2020, and they submitted an interim report at the end of December 2019. There are no appointees representing conservation, environmental, or recreational interests. Instead, the FRAWG is packed with individuals representing agriculture, navigation, and industry. Their interim report makes no mention of the impact of climate change on flooding or the importance of wildlife habitat (like restored floodplains and wetlands) to mitigating flood risk. 

Meanwhile at the municipal level, the city of Maryland Heights’ Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission recently considered a $151 million plan to develop 2,409 flood-prone acres in an area known as the Maryland Park Lake District. In addition to providing flood storage, this area around Creve Coeur Park is a nationally-recognized important birding area. It is one of the few remaining remnant oxbow lake and wetland habitats along the Missouri River. MCE gathered signatures on a public petition and joined other local citizens, environmental groups, and recreation organizations to oppose the TIF development plan. The TIF Commission voted 7 to 5 against the plan — making the right decision and thwarting this irresponsible development. 

Do you think we should stop building in floodplains and focus on innovative, nature-based solutions to flooding? If so, make your voice heard about the Governor’s FRAWG recommendations or about local floodplain developments by visiting our website and staying involved: www.moenvironment.org.