No charges to be filed after levee in SW Iowa was blown up on purpose


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

No charges are expected to be filed after some residents in southwest Iowa’s Pottawattamie County took matters into their own hands by blowing up a levee to get Missouri River flood water off private property and farmland. County Attorney Matt Wilber says the breach was a surprise, to say the least.

Wilber says, “We had a group of citizens that intentionally breached basically a private levee up in the northwest corner of the county, first mechanically and then with explosives.” His main concern was the amount of water released back into the already flooded Missouri River would impact many others in Iowa and Nebraska downstream.

He says, “We saw a rise in the river by about 3 or 4 inches as a result of we believe of that breach.” Wilber says the water quickly receded. No criminal charges will be filed as they used a licensed explosives expert to blow the levee which was located on private property. He says if they had damaged other property the landowners could face other charges.

“If any private property or other property is damaged as a result of this,” he says, “if you change the flow or velocity of water going down stream off of your property to the detriment of others, you can be held civically liable.” Wilber says there was a lot of confusion when this happened on Friday. Authorities in Harrison County were notified of the intentional breach but no one informed those in Pottawattamie County. Wilber says a lot of concern and panic could have been avoided had they made that call.