When it comes to flood protection, levees are the red-headed stepsons of the Corps of Engineers when compared to dams.
Representatives of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Science Foundation said Monday that some of the problems they think played key roles in the disaster -- low engineering safety standards, lack of rigorous peer review and shoddy maintenance -- are simply not tolerated by the corps when building dams, but are commonplace in levee projects.I can understand the importance of the due diligence in designing and building dams. Failure of a dam is usualy catastrophic and sudden because they are always under duress. That is, they're always holding back the water.
Levees on the other hand, typically hold back the water only during times of high-water, not all the time. Unfortunately, if a levee fails at a time when the water level is high, the results are the same as a dam break.
Why the Corps of Engineers didn't understand this is beyond me.