Franklin County Commission wants a dam on the Meramec River to hold back flood waters

UNION, MO (KPLR) – A Franklin County Commissioner wants to revive a plan to build a wall to hold back water in the Meramec River basin.

The banks of the Bourbeuse River are back behind that tree line behind me, but a few weeks ago the water got about this high at its peak in the parking lot of the Dickey Bub Farm supply store.

The Army Corps of Engineers in the past has studied a way to tame this stream.

When surveying flooding in Franklin County, First District Commissioner Tim Brinker feels for the business owners along the Bourbeuse in Union, but he also thinks about the big picture downstream.

“Sheriff Steve Pelton and I here in Franklin County surveyed the flood in a helicopter at its peak level. When we saw the Bourbeuse and Meramec confluence, where they come together, the merge, we notice that indeed it duplicated the size of that flow.”

Brinker wonders how Franklin County would fare if a dam held back the Bourbeuse and formed a lake north of Union.

“You certainly prove to save the infrastructure and the life safety and the quality of life, but probably in equal value, you create all kinds of economic opportunity as well by creating some reservoir/retention.”

The Army Corps of Engineers started looking into the project in the 1970`s, but found by the late 80`s it wasn`t economically justifiable.

Brinker asked the Corps to look at it again and the agency did, with old data and reached a similar conclusion.

But Brinker wants another study with data from the past few years.

“We`re having weather events, drastic weather events more frequently and more sustained. Now what that does is it creates waters we`ve never experience before.”

If it turns out Union Lake is the way to go, it would take more than a decade to get congressional approval and funding for the project as well as construction.

“If the information does indeed come back that a dam or Union Lake would not do anything to impact downstream then what will. What can we implement. Should we do some sort of levee system etc. and we`re gonna find out.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a new mapping tool for flooding in the Meramec basin and is also evaluating other potential flood reduction projects.