About Us
One of our nation’s great industrial and employment centers lies partially within the area known
as the Great American Bottoms in St. Clair and Madison Counties of Illinois.

This area is situated along the easterly bank of the Mississippi River immediately across from
St. Louis and includes the cities of East St. Louis, Granite City, Venice, Madison, Fairmont City
and Washington Park and several smaller communities, all of which are in Illinois.

The area has a relatively high ground water level, and is protected from flood waters of the
Mississippi River by a system of levees and wing-levees, canals, conduits and pumping stations
operated by the District.

This flood protection has proven adequate to keep out the Mississippi River flood waters
throughout the more than 100 years since construction and is one of the few levee systems along
the big river which never has broken.

Especially noteworthy is the fact that during ten record-setting floods of the last 60 years this
system held back the flood waters and no property was lost within the area protected by the
levee, although the river reached a maximum crest of 49.58 feet, St. Louis gauge.
FACTS ABOUT THE DISTRICT, FLOOD PROTECTION
& SURFACE WATER DRAINAGE
Although every effort is made every hour of every day to control the risk of a flood, Mother
Nature always is capable of creating conditions under which there could be a flood, or the risk of
a possible flood.

The District will continue to be vigilant and to watch changing conditions, but everyone who
lives or works near the Mississippi River must accept the fact that Mother Nature and Old
Man River, together, can change the risk of high water at any time.

Because the Mississippi River drains a very large geographic area, and because Mother Nature
can and often does surprise everyone, we never will allow ourselves to rest on our record. We
must be prepared for surprises and for high water levels.
Everyone Should Be Prepared
Although the levee system is operated and maintained to continue our “perfect record” of
holding back flood waters, residents and employers located in the Great American Bottoms
should have a plan of action just in the event that the River reaches unexpected levels for
extraordinarily long periods of time. Such a plan should include the possibility of evacuating low-
lying areas.

Whenever dealing with forces of nature, we must understand that a certain element of risk
always is with us. We must understand that risk, and be prepared to deal with that risk.

The territory within the District generally has an elevation of 30 to 50 feet, St. Louis gauge.
River stages of less than 17 to 22 feet afford no menace to the territory, but above that level,
internal waters will not flow by gravity into the river and pumping stations must be operated.

This entire area is bounded on the east by relatively high bluffs which cause a run-off of storm
water from a wide drainage area into the bottom lands protected by the levee system.

Enabling Act of Illinois Legislature to permit formation of The East Side Levee and Sanitary
District embracing land in both counties was passed May 17, 1907, and was in force July 1,
1907. Permanent organization was effected February 9, 1909.

The East Side Levee and Sanitary District was dissolved in 1974 and the Metro East Sanitary
District was created under the Metro East Sanitary District Act of 1974 (70 ILCS 2905/1-5).

The Metro East Sanitary District is governed by a five-member Board of Commissioners. Three
of the Commissioners are residents of that portion of the District in the county having the
greater equalized assessed valuation of the District, and two are residents of that portion of the
District in the other county
.
Because Mother Nature Isn’t Always Predictable,
Caution & Planning Always Are Important