Within days, the US Army Corps of Engineers is expected to open the Morganza
Spillway in Louisiana to protect major cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans,
both of which will allegedly experience massive flooding if the spillway is not
opened. If and when the spillway is opened, it is projected that three million
more acres of land will be flooded, which will affect 18,000 acres of farmland,
11,000 structures, and 2,500 people.
On Monday, the Corps released a number of bays in the Bonnet Carre Spillway near New Orleans, which has helped to relieve some of the excess water that had built up there.
And later in the week, it opened up even more, releasing 223 of the 350 total
(http://www.nola.com/politics/index….). But reports indicate
that if other levees and bays are not released, including the Morganza, which
has been closed for over 40 years, areas of New Orleans could end up 25 feet under water (http://www.americanrivers.org/newsr…).
The Corps has
released three maps that project three different
flooding scenarios. The first shows projected flooding if the Morganza Spillway
is operating at 50 percent capacity (http://www.flickr.com/photos/376719…). The second shows what
will happen if the Morganza Spillway is not opened at all, and 1.8 million cubic
feet per second of water is free to flow down the Mississippi River (http://www.flickr.com/photos/376719…). And the third shows
the expected scenario of allowing 1.5 million cubic feet per second of water to
flow, while diverting any excess water through the Old River Control structure
and not operating the Morganza Spillway (http://www.flickr.com/photos/376719…).
“We have used
the best science and engineering available to develop these scenarios,”
explained Col. Ed Fleming, the New Orleans District Commander for the Corps, to
WDSU in New Orleans, noting that the projections represent best-guess estimates.
“They are decision-making tools to help operate the Mississippi River and
Tributaries system as we face record-breaking river conditions” (http://www.wdsu.com/r/27877850/deta…).
Times-Picayune says that Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal has grown impatient
waiting for the Corps to release the Morganza Spillway (http://www.nola.com/environment/ind…), but the Corps says
the river must first reach a threshold of 1.5 million cubic feet of water per
second before half of the 125 Morganza bays can be opened (http://www.wafb.com/story/14639978/…).