Government Can't Define Flood Taking As 'More Than One Flood'

Monday, September 09, 2013 12:00 am
 
Land Use Law Report, Volume 41, Number 9
 

Landowners survived a motion to dismiss their claim that the United States took hundreds of millions of dollars in property without just compensation when they purposefully flooded it in 2011.

Facts: In 2011, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Morganza Spillway in Louisiana, purposefully flooding more than 4,000 square miles with water from the Mississippi River. Landowners whose property was flooded sued the United States, alleging that the flooding of their property was a taking for which the government must pay just compensation.

The Morganza Spillway is part of the Mississippi’s flood control system, managed by the Corps. However, unlike the upriver Old River Control structure, which the Corps uses routinely to divert water, the Morganza Spillway has only been opened twice—once in 1973 and once in 2011. The Corps elected to open the Morganza Spillway in 2011 because it was concerned that floodwaters would compromise the levees in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

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