Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
River RepublicThe Fall and Rise of America's Rivers$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Daniel McCool

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161312

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161312.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Black Water Rising

Black Water Rising

The Myth of Flood Control

(p.166) 7 Black Water Rising
River Republic

Daniel McCool

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how flood control diminished the value of American rivers as a natural resource and instead allocated them to narrow, extractive uses. The federal government warns that floods are “America's number one natural disaster,” but the only thing natural about them is the rise in water level; the resulting destruction can be attributed to humans. But that is small consolation to those who, perhaps unwittingly, make their homes in the path of a moving wall of water. This is why levees are built, led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The construction of a levee is relatively simple, as is the politics of levee building. There are flood management structures all over the nation, but nowhere is the titanic struggle between low-lying people and high-flying water more dramatic than in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. It is an illusion to think that the Mississippi River can be effectively controlled. The best we can hope for is river restoration and a powerful lesson about what happens when we try to force big rivers into narrow ditches.

Keywords:   flood control, American rivers, floods, levees, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, flood management, Lower Mississippi River Valley, Mississippi River, river restoration

Columbia Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .