The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has started releasing water from rain-swollen Saylorville Lake, allowing for a slow rise in the Des Moines river as it winds toward Des Moines and a vulnerable levee protecting a neighborhood near downtown. The release is a critical test for the levee, which failed in 1993 and 2008, flooding the working-class Birdland neighborhood.The Story Continues Below..... ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ The center panel of the inflatable dam on the spillway was lowered at 6:15 a.m. Thursday. Corps spokesman Tom Heinold says there are five sections, and it will take about 15 hours to lower them all. Des Moines Public Works Director Bill Stowe says there was no change in the levees overnight. Crews will be spending the day in the Birdland neighborhood, walking the levee and watching for any possible signs of trouble.