House bill aims to improve Mississippi River levees to protect against flooding

New legislation hopes to better prepare infrastructure for future floods along the Mississippi River.

The Upper Mississippi River Levee Safety Act grants local districts more flexibility when it comes to maintaining those systems. The bill also addresses federal regulatory challenges.

Representative Darin LaHood out of Illinois introduced the bill and says that inland waterway improvements are critical for farmers to export and to protect rural communities and farmland from flooding.

However, flooding conditions are not a concern along the mighty Mississippi right now. Water levels are once again reaching historic lows for the second year in a row, and it is only expected to get worse.

NOAA and the U.S. Geological survey both report critical or below critical levels for water gauges across the 400-mile waterway.

Specifically in Memphis, all gauges are within the top five lowest levels on record. In Louisiana, drinking and irrigation water could be in danger. The New Orleans Army Corps office says that ten inches of rainfall is needed across the entire Mississippi Valley to push saltwater back.