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Some Good News In The Atchafalaya Basin

The Times-Picayune reports that Flooding fears recede for residents in Morganza Floodway

BUTTE LA ROSE — Unleashing a torrent greater than Niagara Falls, the Morganza Floodway is gushing 114,000 cubic feet of water per second into the Atchafalaya River Basin, spawning white-water rapids that churn more than 100 yards from the control structure.

When the spillway gates started opening May 14 to reduce near-record levels on the rain-swollen Mississippi River, the Army Corps of Engineers projected there would be up to 25 feet of flooding in a 20-mile-wide, 150-mile-long swath of Cajun country from Melville to Morgan City.

But with no significant flooding of inhabited areas more than a week later, some floodway residents, especially those who packed all their belongings and headed for higher ground days ago, are asking a simple question: Where’s the water?

The flood projections were made based on what happened the last time the Morganza Spillway was used, in 1973. That year the ground was saturated and the Atchafalaya River system was already high before the gates were opened. In addition more gates were opened, and they were opened at the same time.

This year the river system is low and the ground dry from a winter drought. The Corps has also been adding water gradually and isn’t adding as much as was diverted in 1973. Not only is the ground soaking it up, but there are numerous ponding sites in the basin that are also pulling water out of the Spillway.

As the diversion continues the water will get higher, but it doesn’t look like it will be the major flooding that occurred in 1973.

1 comment

1 David Booher { 05.24.11 at 1:41 am }

That occurred in 1973, All I got is a memory and pain!