Media

Merging districts for Arkansas levees gets look

By Emily Walkenhorst
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Members of Arkansas' Levee Task Force on Monday debated ways to streamline levee district organization and oversight, including by consolidating districts.

But some in attendance at the group's third meeting said consolidating districts is not as easy as it sounds.

A central frustration for state leaders attempting to find a solution to levee-related flood damage is the lack of levee district oversight. That has in part allowed some levee districts to go defunct for years, neglecting maintenance of their levees and leaving them at risk for flood damage locals can't afford to fix.

Much of Monday's discussion hovered around levee districts' lack of liability for property damages and limited accountability.

County Judge Mark Thone of Yell County, which experienced a major breach of an unmanaged levee in this spring's historic flooding, floated the idea of consolidating levee districts into a single county district or having an oversight committee that meets annually. He also suggested an Arkansas River levee board to oversee the levees along the river.

"I don't think any functional levee district is going to look kindly on consolidating with a nonfunctional neighbor district," said Mike Lowe, a farmer in Miller County. READ MORE.

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