– Levee Intentionally Blown Up Along Missouri River (KETV, July 1, 2011):
LOVELAND, Iowa — Authorities are investigating an intentional breach in a levee near Desoto Bend.
Pottawattamie County officials said a half-mile stretch of the Vanmann #30 levee was mechanically excavated and then lowered by using explosives. The private levee is just north of the Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Honey Creek.
So far, emergency management officials said they’ve seen no damage as a result of the levee breach, but they have fielded plenty of phone calls about it.
Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Theulen said he was alerted Friday morning that the levee may have been in the process of being intentionally breached. About 20 minutes later, officials said they received calls from people wanting to know why levees were being blown up. One caller claimed to have witnessed the explosion.
Pottawattamie County officials said no government entity had anything to do with the detonation, and they did not have advance notice from the people responsible for the breach.
Vanmann #30 is an agricultural levee, controlled by a local levee board — not county or federal officials. The board members wanted to protect their crop land, so they built up the levee, according to officials. When a levee farther north breached, it caused water to pool in the area, flooding more land.
The group then started talks with officials about breaching Vanmann #30 to allow the water to go back into the Missouri River.
On June 28, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said it did not regulate the levee in question. The Army Corps of Engineers initially said it would not approve the breach of the levee. But Friday morning, the Corps also said it did not have authority to regulate the Vanmann #30 levee.
It’s unclear whether the group needed permission to lower the levee or if the group is even responsible for this morning’s explosion.
According to the Pottawattamie County Assessor’s Office, trustees of a levee district ordinarily have control over levees in their jurisdiction. But the county attorney’s office is investigating the possibility of charges and whether the people responsible obtained the explosives illegally.