Project Status

Our Project Strategy includes five elements:

  1. An affordable design solution
  2. Financing Plan
  3. Construction approach and implementation plan
  4. Legislative, political, regulatory and legal agenda to buy time and limit economic distress
  5. Continuous public engagement

The FPD Council continues to make progress in each of these areas, as described below.

An Affordable Design Solution

To achieve the most affordable design solution, the FPD Council sought competitive design proposals to improve the area’s levee systems from three design teams who were chosen on the basis of their qualifications. These firms were invited to submit conceptual design proposals and cost estimates. The design teams were charged with developing cost-effective design concepts, with the principal goal of achieving levee certification at the lowest cost and in the shortest time. Based on the conceptual proposals and related cost estimates, in June 2010, a team of local and national engineering firms, led by AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc., was selected by the FPD Council to design and manage the construction of levee improvements. The project team is currently completing the preliminary design, cost estimate and schedule, marking a critical stage in the levee improvement project.

On March 1, 2011, AMEC turned in the first set of “progress drawings” for the project, showing proposed design features throughout the 74 mile levee system.  Click here for an overview of these early stage design documents.  During March and April the design team will be reviewing their initial proposals with the Corps of Engineers, the levee districts and others, as well as refining their analysis to produce the most cost-effective design.  In addition, we are sponsoring an independent review of AMEC’s proposals in a process known as “value engineering.”  A VE workshop with a group of engineers and designers not affiliated with the project was held on four days in late March, producing a number of useful suggestions to reduce the cost of the project.

Financing Plan

The FPD Council retained a financial advisor soon after it was formed to help with the development of a long-term financing strategy. The strategy calls for leveraging the funds being raised by the ¼ cent sales tax that all three counties imposed in 2008 to pay for the improvements to the levee system. The tax has been collected since January 2009 and produces approximately $10.5 million annually.   The Council’s financial advisors completed a financing strategy in 2010, which was later incorporated into the overall Project Implementation Plan.  Based on the projected revenue stream from the sales tax, the FPD Council completed a bond issue in November 2010, raising $94 million to pay for the ongoing work to restore the levees. The financing plan was updated in 2012 to reflect current market conditions and in consideration of the latest project cost estimate.  Future bond issues and other borrowings will follow, most likely in 2014 and 2015.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also are working with the FPD Council to secure future federal funds and to develop legislation to qualify expenditures being made by the Council as “work-in-kind” that will match future federal appropriations for levee improvements.

Construction Approach and Implementation Plan

The construction approach is focused on reducing costs and compressing the schedule by better utilizing existing assets and incorporating innovative construction techniques, contracting processes and procurement methods. The FPD Council recently executed an agreement with the USACE to provide dedicated part-time staffing to serve as a liaison to the Corps. This arrangement will help to expedite permits and provision of design data, and also to coordinate project schedules and activities to ensure a seamless relationship between design and construction activities of the two organizations as work shifts into high gear. The FPD Council expects that preliminary engineering will be completed by AMEC by April 2011, at which time the final cost and schedule for the necessary improvements to the levees can be reliably determined and work can begin in earnest. A variety of other smaller projects are already underway.

For more specifics on the work currently taking place on the levees, view project team presentations here.

Legislative, Political, Regulatory and Legal Agenda

While work continues to improve the levees, additional efforts are underway to buy time and limit economic distress in the impacted area.

FEMA Lawsuit

The state’s attorneys of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties, along with a group of municipalities and individuals, filed suit Nov. 15, 2010, in federal court against FEMA and its director Craig Fugate. The purpose of the suit is to invalidate the new flood insurance rate maps that FEMA is planning to issue by the end of 2011 declaring almost the entire American Bottom as a special flood hazard area, an action that will have a devastating economic impact on the region.

The suit centers on challenging the arbitrary decision to deaccredit the levee systems, the lack of due process and the lack of any supporting data, analysis and studies. Hearings on motions seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent the release of the new maps as well as the federal government’s motion to dismiss the case will likely be held as soon as April.

Click here to view the Lawsuit filed against FEMA , or click here to view the Press Release

Legislative & Regulatory Agenda

The Council has developed a legislative agenda that consists of a wide-ranging list of federal actions to limit the detrimental economic effects of levee decertification, and to provide financial incentives for local authorities to make improvements to flood protection systems. The purpose of this agenda is both to delay the imposition of the maps, particularly in areas like ours that have made a strong commitment to improved flood protection, and to seek added federal funding for the project. We are working closely with our area’s congressional representatives to advance these proposals.

Continuous Public Engagement

The FPD Council continues to work closely with a variety of partner organizations to ensure that citizens and businesses that are being affected by FEMA’s actions have opportunities to stay informed on this vital issue. Among these partners are the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, which is administering the St. Louis Metro East Levee Issues Alliance, and various local governments. We also have given dozens of presentations at chamber meetings, Rotary and other gatherings and are in frequent communication with the local media to ensure that the key milestones in our process are covered.

We created this website as another way for people to get background information on this issue and all the latest updates. We encourage you to check back often as the site will be updated frequently based on the progress being made.

If you represent a group whose members would be interested in a presentation by the FPD Council, contact Chuck Etwert at