WES-ERDC Levee History

  • Great Flood of 1927

    Great Flood of 1927
    Wide-spread breaching of the levee system
  • 1928 Flood Control Act

    1928 Flood Control Act
    The Flood Control act funded the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) project which resulted in rebuilding of the damaged levee system.
  • New Levee Profile

    New Levee Profile
    A new trapezoidal levee profile and geometry standard were established
  • USACE National Hydraulics Laboratory

    USACE National Hydraulics Laboratory
    The 1928 Flood Control act also created a National Hydraulics Laboratory. This laboratory became the U.S. Waterways Experiment Station (WES) now U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.
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    Meander Cutoff Program

    The lower Mississippi River was shortened by about 151 miles between the Memphis and Baton Rouge reach between 1929 and 1942 through a series of planned neck cut-offs at large meander loops to efficiently move flood flow.This program was so successful that it would effectively eliminated the planned bypass floodway on the west bank of the Mississippi River below Arkansas City, AR.The cutoff program influenced the current day levee corridor.
  • Potomology Research Begins at WES

    Potomology Research Begins at WES
    The Meander Cutoff Program resulted in a potomology research program by WES on channel stabilization measures and geologic studies of river bank morphology.
  • Flood of 1936

    Flood of 1936
    The human and economic toll of the 1936 flood demonstrated the power of nature and made clear the necessity of change.
  • Flood Control Act of 1936

    Flood Control Act of 1936
    This act created a national flood control policy and authorized flood control projects in 46 drainage basins across the U.S.
  • ASCE Conference

    ASCE Conference
    This conference was centrally important for bringing national attention and focus to the different Federal and state agencies responsible for execution of flood control efforts.
  • Mississippi River Flood

    Mississippi River Flood
    Flood tested the newly rebuilt 1928 levee profile. The WES soils laboratory was a central part of this underseepage research program to develop effective counter measures to prevent levee failures from loss of foundation soils by artesian pressure in the aquifer causing internal erosion and piping. During the 1937 flood, the levees along the Mississippi did not breech and it was the first time Birds Point-New Madrid floodway was activated.
  • ASCE Soils and Foundation Conference

    ASCE Soils and Foundation Conference
    This conference was responsible for formalizing a written research plan by USACE district and division engineers concerning significant soil mechanics issues along with developing a framework for subsequent research activities in soil mechanics in terms of levee engineering at WES. Pictured is the WES soils laboratory.
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    MRC Sponsored Underseepage and Site Characterizations Investigations

    Development of first laboratory based methods to model seepage conditions, and test the efficacy of relief wells for controlling uplift pressure for both levees and dams where artesian conditions occur in alluvial foundations. Research begun during his period would ultimately shape USACE guidance at the national level in subsequent years and would lead to the development of blanket theory equations to analyze and remediate dangerous under seepage and uplift conditions behind levees.
  • 1941 Levee Code & 1941-47 Systematic Geologic Characterization

    1941 Levee Code & 1941-47 Systematic Geologic Characterization
    The 1941 Levee Code lead to the need of the 1941-47 site characterization studies. Dr. Fisk and his team performed site characterizations and identified the clay layer still used today in the Blanket Theory analysis. These efforts are significant in terms of its long-term impacts to the state of USACE levee practices. Link: https://erdc-library.erdc.dren.mil/xmlui/handle/11681/8926
  • Conference on Control of Underseepage

    Conference on Control of Underseepage
    An underseepage conference was held in Cincinnati, OH, in June 1944 that brought together geotechnical engineers across the USACE for the purpose of collecting and disseminating available data on underseepage. Link: http://acwc.sdp.sirsi.net/client/default/search/detailnonmodal/ent:$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:55252/ada?rt=CKEY|||CKEY|||false
  • 1947 Levee Code

    1947 Levee Code
    The code recognized the concept of an exit gradient for seepage control for remediation efforts where gradients were above 0.7 and the importance of conducting geologic studies for levee foundations. Noteworthy amendments are adoption of the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS) to replace the LMV soils triangle classification system.
  • 1948 Flood Control Act

    1948 Flood Control Act
    This gave the Chief of Engineers giving the power to authorize minor flood control projects without having to get Congressional approval. It also authorized several larger flood control projects and amended the budget set forth in the Flood Control Act of 1946.
  • Publication of Soil Mechanics Design Manual on Seepage Control

    Publication of Soil Mechanics Design Manual on Seepage Control
    Publication of the first seepage control manual for both dams and levees. This manual begins the process to codify the state of practice for seepage control by USACE in levees and dams from important studies and lessons learned. This was later updated in 1955 with Civil Works Engineer Bulletin 55-11, Relief Well Design.
    Link:https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p266001coll1/id/7518/
  • Publication of the WES Blanket Theory Equations

    Publication of the WES Blanket Theory Equations
    Equations provide guidance and solutions for underseepage and its control for the Middle and Lower Mississippi Valleys. Blanket Theory is a set of closed-form solutions for computing seepage pressures and flows beneath levees which now are foundational equations for geotechnical engineering. Link:https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p266001coll1/id/2416/
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    LMV Comprehensive Geological Mapping Program

    A geologic mapping program was initiated by the MRC in the late 1950s to conduct systematic geologic mapping in the LMV at the 15-minute map scale and are still in use today.
    Link: http://lmvmapping.erdc.usace.army.mil/
  • MRC Staff Study on Berm Design

    MRC Staff Study on Berm Design
    Standard practices among the various USACE districts for berm design based on WES research. This includes first levee manual.
    Link:https://www.publications.usace.army.mil/Portals/76/Publications/EngineerManuals/EM_1110-2-1913.pdf
  • Design of Finite Relief Well Systems

    Design of Finite Relief Well Systems
    The manual presents procedures specifically to the design of fine relief systems for relieving artesian and seepage pressures in the landside foundations area of dam or levee systems. Link:https://www.publications.usace.army.mil/Portals/76/Publications/EngineerManuals/EM_1110-2-1914.pdf
  • Passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968

    Passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968
    This act was instrumental in codifying WES and MRC guidance involving levees and research results.
  • SEEP2D 2-D Finite Element Seepage Model Developed

    SEEP2D 2-D Finite Element Seepage Model Developed
    Dr. Fred Tracy published SEEP2D and then in the late 1970s published groundbreaking work on visualization and pre- and post-processing for FEM models. Link: https://www.xmswiki.com/wiki/GMS:SEEP2D
  • Publication of EM-1110-2-1913, Design and Construction of Levee

    Publication of EM-1110-2-1913, Design and Construction of Levee
    USACE published Design and Construction of Levee Engineering Manuel based on WES levee research Link: https://www.publications.usace.army.mil/Portals/76/Publications/EngineerManuals/EM_1110-2-1913.pdf
  • Publication of EM 1110-2-1914

    Publication of EM 1110-2-1914
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    1993,1997,2008, 2011 and 2019 Floods

    Increased flooding with the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway opening in 1997, 2008, 2011, 2016, 2018 and twice in 2019 during the longest duration flooding. https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Mississippi-River-Flood-Control/Bonnet-Carre-Spillway-Overview/
  • Update to EM-1110-2-1913

    Update to EM-1110-2-1913
  • Hurricane Katrina and Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET)

    Hurricane Katrina and Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET)
    Forensic Analysis and Risk Based System Wide Assessment https://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/40927%28243%29609
  • Effects of Woody Vegetation on Levees

    Effects of Woody Vegetation on Levees
    Understanding these differences and the interaction of each vegetation species with the levee soil structure is necessary for interpreting the effects of levee vegetation https://www.nws.usace.army.mil/Portals/27/docs/Levees/ERDC%20Literature_Review-Vegetation.pdf
  • Remote sensing and monitoring of earthen flood-control structures

    Remote sensing and monitoring of earthen flood-control structures
    Real-time monitoring of earthen flood-control structures such as dams and levees https://erdc-library.erdc.dren.mil/xmlui/handle/11681/22804