Friday, May 13, 2011

Cairo won't crumble from sand boils, geologist says

CARBONDALE, IL (KRCU) - A professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale says that Cairo, Illinois is not at risk of being overtaken by sand boils.

Dr. Nicholas Pinter is a professor in the Department of Geology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He’s an expert on flood hydrology and floodplain management. He says that the land beneath Cairo is not in danger of crumbling apart. The town’s real peril subsided when river levels dropped on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

“They were and should have been worried when the waters were up. This was a major threat to the integrity of those very levees. And it’s a threat that increased as the water levels got higher. Now as the crests have passed, thank goodness here, the immediate threat from those features has subsided,” Pinter said.

Pinter says that the Birds Point floodway had the desired effect of reducing river levels at Cairo and 40 miles upstream. He believes that the Army Corps of Engineers could have opened the floodway earlier, which may have prevented flooding in the southern Illinois community of Olive Branch.

Moving forward, Pinter wants to see less intensive use of the floodway.

“Keep construction, infrastructure, and population out of that floodplain. Agricultural use of that land is absolutely appropriate. And that has been one of the major developments. That land has gone from partially used to very, very intensively used since the designing of the original system,” Pinter said.

Dr. Pinter believes that the levee should be reconstructed. He would like to see more land set aside for floodplains in order to mitigate future flood events.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


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