Despite flooding, Vandalia levees holding up

About six years after Fayette County experienced one of the wettest springs in history, farmers in low-lying areas are again seeing their planting work being delayed by considerable rainfall.

Add to that the amount of water coming down the Kaskaskia River when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened the gates at Lake Shelbyville.

But, thus far, the Vandalia Levee and Drainage Districts levee system has withstood the excessive amounts of water fairly well.

The water has overtopped the levee at some locations and there have been two or three minor breaks on the internal levee, but overall, its held up pretty good, said Ken Cripe of the districts board of trustees.

Two years ago, the district had considerable work done to the levee south of Vandalia, in the area of Sandy Run Creek.

That work has paid off, Cripe said.

It stood up just excellent in that area, he said about the area where the project work included maintenance and straightening of the levee.

I wish we would have been able to have this type of thing done on the east (side of the district), where the water has gone over the levee, he said.

Many fields in the river bottoms are still under water, which means that it will be some time before farmers can plant corn or soybeans.

In the past three or four years, Cripe said, his family planted crops in the 1,300 acres it farms in the second or third week of April.

Were not behind at this point, but youre still looking at the first of May, he said, noting that additional rains will push back planting even more.

Flooding of the bottomlands has been an issue in recent years, with the worst being in 2002, when water rose over U.S. Route 51 south of town and caused its closure for an extended period of time.

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