Natural Hazards

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 551–575 | Cite as

Hydraulic and flood-loss modeling of levee, floodplain, and river management strategies, Middle Mississippi River, USA

  • Jonathan W. F. Remo
  • Megan Carlson
  • Nicholas Pinter
Original Paper


In this investigation, four scenarios were used to quantify the balance between the benefits of levees for flood protection and their potential to increase flood risk using Hazards U.S. Multi-Hazard flood-loss software and hydraulic modeling of the Middle Mississippi River (MMR). The goals of this study were (1) to quantify the flood exposure under different flood-control configurations and (2) to assess the relative contributions of various engineered structures and flood-loss strategies to potential flood losses. Removing all the flood-control structures along the MMR, without buyouts or other mitigation, reduced the average flood stages between 2.3 m (100-year flood) and 2.5 m (500-year), but increased the potential flood losses by $4.3–6.7 billion. Removing the agricultural levees downstream of St. Louis decreased the flood stages through the metro region by ~1.0 m for the 100- and 500-year events; flood losses, without buyouts or other mitigation, were increased by $155 million for the 100-year flood, but were decreased by $109 million for the 500-year flood. Thus, agricultural levees along the MMR protect against small- to medium-size floods (up to the ~100-year flood level) but cause more damage than they prevent during large floods such as the 500-year flood. Buyout costs for the all the buildings within the 500-year floodplain downstream of urban flood-control structures near St. Louis are ~40% less than the cost of repairing the buildings damaged by the 500-year flood. This suggests large-scale buyouts could be the most cost-effective option for flood loss mitigation for properties currently protected by agricultural levees.


Flood-loss modeling Floodplain management River management Middle Mississippi River 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan W. F. Remo
    • 1
  • Megan Carlson
    • 1
  • Nicholas Pinter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologySouthern Illinois University, CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA

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