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Corps of Engineers: A New Floodway on the Lower Mississippi?

Morganza Floodway Structure

On May 10, after the opening of the New Madrid Floodway, I wrote about the floodways that had been proposed for the Arkanasas River basin, but never built. In the posting I quoted a section in The Mississippi: A Visual Biography where General Harley Ferguson described the natural course of a Mississippi River flood before the construction of artificial levees. Much of the flood flowed south through the Arkansas River basin to the Atchafalaya and the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is mulling over the cost of repairing the levees on the Lower Mississippi, which could come to $2 billion dollars. All that water running against the levees did a considerable amount of damage to them. And if the flood came to within a foot or two of the top of the levees, they may have to be raised so they measure three feet above the level of the Flood of 2011.

Boeuf Bayou, Northern Louisiana in the Arkansas River Basin

The engineers are also considering a new floodway, possibly through the Arkansas River basin. When the engineers designed the Mississippi River and Tributaries project after the Flood of 1927, they decided to give land back to the river. This was the reasoning behind the four floodways. We seem to have forgotten that in the 70 years since the MRT project was settled on in 1941 and the Eudora and Boeuf Floodways through the Arkansas River basin were shed from the project.

If you have not read the article in the St. Louis Beacon, which is also highlighted above, it is worth reading again. I wrote about the article while I was out of town, came back to it the other day, reread it, and was struck by its completeness.


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