After the disastrous flooding of 2016, the people of Louisiana have an understandable sympathy for those in Nebraska and elsewhere in the Midwest, where levees have been overtopped and thousands forced from their homes.
And those news events are of some immediate interest, as the Mississippi River rises higher and higher.
“The longer the river stays up, the more susceptible the levees are to failure,” said state Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Prairieville.
And if a levee breaks, “God help us if that happens here,” Lambert said.
While both statements are certainly true, there is some reassurance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett told The Advocate that the river is still operating within its capacity and studies are showing the flooding has reached its crest, which means those water levels will start slowly receding. But there are still unknown factors this flood season.
“They’re expecting to reach a record length of time for being above flood stage. For our processes, we’re at the capacity of what the system is designed to do,” he said. “It’s kind of a matter, to us, of maintaining inspections and processes so if something does occur that would threaten that system we can intervene.”
The National Audubon Society has deemed the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, a $1.3 billion Mississippi River diversion planned for lower Pla…
That is part of life in the spring in Louisiana, although this is high water with a vengeance. Some high water near a flood plain in St. Francisville drew attention this month.
As Lambert told the Press Club of Baton Rouge, the Bonnet Carre spillway has been opened more frequently in the last few years, but there are really a set of issues that the senator called attention to. One is the management of the river levels by the Corps, another is better planning and coordination in river basins and a third is the goal of building more diversions to use river sediments to combat Louisiana’s coastal erosion.
Each requires close attention. Relations with the Corps are always important to Louisiana.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has pushed for better coordination among parishes in river basins, although Lambert said that the state might ultimately have to go a step further because of the complications of rivers and streams that require management across political lines.
Even if it were it sitting in a green field on high ground, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion would be a giant project. Permits and approva…
And on the issue of diversions, Lambert is right: “If we’re going to have a chance to rebuild Louisiana, we’re going to have to have some river diversion projects.”
Still, those are very expensive, with the biggest — the mid-Barataria, now a central part of the state’s coastal plan — clocking in at well over $1 billion. Lambert said more diversions higher up the Mississippi would help preserve areas like the Maurepas swamp that are a vital protection for the river parishes. But with projects so expensive, the age-old question is how to fund them.
That will require more collaboration in the state, but ultimately a lot of help from the U.S. taxpayer will be needed.