Levee & Pump Stations

The City of Cape Girardeau took over maintenance of the 8,460 foot levee system in 2008 from the Main Street and North Main Street Levee Districts. This system includes five closures and two pump stations along Main Street, one at Mill Street and the other at Merriwether Street. When the Mississippi River level reaches near its flood stage of 32 feet on Cape Girardeau’s gauge, the Mill and Merriwether Pumping Stations must be manned 24 hours a day. The pumps at these stations push the stormwater into the river. This process is normally done by gravity flow, which cannot be accomplished when the river level is at or above flood stage.  If the pumps were to fail, downtown Cape Girardeau would flood quickly.

Opening Flood GateWhen the river reaches around 35.5 feet, Public Works closes the flood gate at Water and Themis Streets. The gate at Water and Broadway can stay open until around 37.8 feet. Closure of these gates block access to the popular Riverfront Park. If the level reaches 39.5 feet, we coordinate closure of the railroad gates with Burlington Northern Railroad and trains can no longer be routed through downtown.

Routine maintenance is done to keep the levee operational and within U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guidelines. During floods, crews must monitor the entire levee system to be sure there are no problems. The highest river stage on record at Cape Girardeau occurred on Jan. 2, 2016 when the Mississippi River reached a historic crest of 48.86 feet. The levee system is built to protect the area to a 54-foot flood stage.