To See How Levees Increase Flooding, We Built Our Own
Levees — massive earthen or concrete structures that keep rivers confined to their channels — tame the flow of rivers and make life possible for the millions of people who live behind them. But they come with often-unexamined risks, as they can make floods worse for the communities across the river or upstream from them.
This is well-known to scientists and supported by basic physics, but ProRepublica wanted to see it for themselves. So, instead of waiting for a huge flood, they built their own.
ProPublica and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting hired engineers at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis to build a physical model of four levee scenarios to see how levee height and placement choices can put surrounding communities on the floodplain — the low-lying land near river channels — at greater risk of flooding.
This article and video shares what they learnt about the truth of levees.