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Historic Mississippi River flood prompts Army Corps to release Louisiana's Morganza levee; 3 million more acres of land to be inundated with water

Saturday, May 14, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Mississippi River, Army Corps of Engineers, health news

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(NaturalNews) 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.ssf/2011/...). 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/newsroom/blog/...).

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/37671998@N05/57...). 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/37671998@N05/57...). 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/37671998@N05/57...).

"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/detail.html).

The 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/index.ssf/20...), 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/corps-exp...).

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