Studies have indicated that wing dams may cause problems. Under flood conditions, the structures slow water speed and constrict the channel forcing flood levels to rise. A comparison (Criss and Shock) of flood stage levels of the middle-MISSISSIPPI RIVER (from the confluence of the Missouri River down to the Ohio River), and the lower Missouri River, both heavily lined with wing dams, to the Meramec River in Missouri, and the Ohio River at Cincinnati which are free of wing dams suggested that wing dams increased flooding. "Where none of this kind of engineering occurred (including the construction of levees), the records today look just like the records of 100 years ago," said Criss. "Such is not the case on the heavily engineered Mississippi River at St. Louis. Before WORLD WAR II, floods that reached 38 feet or higher at St. Louis were very rare, occurring only about every 50 years, but now flood stages of this magnitude occur every five years or so."
(All photographs were courtesy of Maury Anderson.)
(Technical assistance on all photographs was provided by Rebekah Godwin.)