Is Their a Solution Upstream for the Cache River?

JACKSON COUNTY, AR--It's a problem that has plagued Jackson County residents for decades and costs them millions of dollars each year in lost crops. Anytime the region gets a large amount of rain the Cache River rises out of its banks and floods around Grubbs.

However, hope could be on the way if congress passes a 15 billion dollar Water Resource Development Act, hundreds of projects, including the drift that backs up the Cache River might be fixed.

For farmers in Jackson County, fixing the drift in the Cache River has been like swimming upstream.

"I am hoping in the next year or two, we are going to be able to do some things to help us with the Cache River," said Jackson County Judge Kerry Tharpe.

Since coming into office, Tharpe has made it an initiative to help fix the drift on the Cache and feels a Water Resource Development Act is a step in the right direction.

"Anything that they say is going to get some money for us is a positive," said Tharpe.

It's believed it would cost at least a couple million dollars to fix the problem on the Cache. However, before the Army Corps of Engineers would start work on the project, they have to study the area, and then make a plan. Tharpe feels that is just more time that farmers and residents will have to worry about the next big rainfall.

"Those people deserve the right to live how they want to and not fear about losing their house because of a flood," said Tharpe.

While the government waits for money to perform a study, Judge Tharpe is ready to take action now. He believes he has a plan that should at least help the county in the short term.

"I would like to go in there and just using a couple days of work, if I can get in there, we could actually give ourselves some leeway until they are able to fix the drift," said Tharpe.

He believes that with county resources he could clear some dirt and drift. However, he can't do anything until he receives approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. So far, they haven't been receptive to the idea.

"There are things I know I can do, but I have to wait for someone to tell I can, and that is the frustrating part," said Tharpe.

For now, Tharpe continues to work with Senator Marion Berry and county officials in Craighead and Woodruff Counties to lay the groundwork to one day fix the problem.

"I gave my word to the people of Jackson County that I would do my best to take care of the Cache River drift and I am not going to stop until something is done," said Tharpe.

He believes if the problem gets fixed it will have a trickle down effect on the rest of the county. Farmers that lose fewer crops will have more to spend in the county and the county won't have to spend money to sandbag around homes and towns when the waters of the Cache rise.