Before reading the article:
Look at the photos that accompany today’s article. What do they tell you about how levee systems are supposed to work — and what happens when they fail?
Do you have any personal experience with a body of water flooding the nearby land? If so, what happened? Do you know if there was a levee that was breached?
Now, read the article, “‘Breaches Everywhere’: Flooding Bursts Midwest Levees, and Tough Questions Follow,” and answer the following questions:
1. The article describes levees as “an insurance policy against nature’s whims.” What does that mean?
2. How were most levees built and by whom? What entities now manage them? What challenges have levees and the people who control them faced in recent years?
3. How many levees were breached or overtopped in the Midwest this March?
4. What role does the United States Army Corps of Engineers play? How is this group limited in what it can do in regard to regulating water levels? What legal issues have resulted?
5. Who is Tom Waters? What does he believe needs to happen in regard to infrastructure? What analogy does he use to bolster his argument?
Finally, tell us more about what you think:
1. When did the Corps establish a “levees only” system? What did that entail? When was this system said to have “failed spectacularly”?
2. How does the article explain why many people blame the Corps for the recent damaged and breached levees in the Midwest? Do you agree or disagree with this stance? Why?
3. What do you think it’s like to live in places near the levees that have flooded recently? How reasonable do you think it is to hope that policies will change or that flooding won’t happen again? Why do you say that?