2019 mississippi river flood

Travis Lux / WWNO

One of the ways the state plans to rebuild land on the Louisiana coast is by sediment diversions -- diverting the silt, sand, and dirty waters of the Mississippi River into the marsh.

For years, many in the commercial fishing industry have claimed that the influx of freshwater funneled through diversions would ruin their industry. Now, some fishers feel they have proof: the damaging impacts of the 2019 Mississippi River Flood.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Two disaster-related bills proposed this week in Congress could offer relief for Louisiana communities affected by extreme weather. One would create a permanent safety net program for commercial fishers who have suffered losses due to environmental damage. Another would create a special fund meant to help cities and towns build more resiliently.

Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture Protection Act of 2019

Environmental disasters can cause commercial fishers to lose money. This year, for example, Mississippi River flooding has dramatically reduced the catch of several kinds of seafood in both Mississippi and Louisiana.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The commercial fishing industry on the Gulf Coast has seen two major disasters in the last 15 years: Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Now, some fear we’re on the cusp of a third. The culprit: historic flooding from the Mississippi River.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The flooding Mississippi River is taking a major toll on Louisiana’s commercial fisheries.

Many of the state’s fisheries, like shrimp and oysters, need a mix of salty and fresh water to grow properly. But because of the months-long flooding on the Mississippi River and the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway -- through which water has been flowing for more than 70 days this year -- many of those areas are now too fresh.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to open the Morganza Flood Control Structure on Sunday to relieve flooding on the Mississippi River. For those who live and work downstream of the spillway, that means it’s time to get ready.

For this story, we’re going to take a trip down the floodway, north to south. We’ll start in the town of Morganza, and end up down near the Gulf, talking to people along the way.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Army Corps of Engineers has delayed the opening of the Morganza Flood Control Structure for a second time.

The Corps was originally set to begin opening the structure on Sunday, June 2nd, but later postponed until Thursday, June 6th. Now the Corps is aiming for Sunday, June 9th.

Officials say changing river forecasts are responsible for both delays. The river is not expected to reach the trigger point for operation until a few days later.

Wikimedia

Though the official decision will not be made until next week, the Army Corps of Engineers expects to open the Morganza Spillway as soon as June 2nd.

Located upriver from Baton Rouge, the Spillway has only been used twice before: during the floods of 1973 and 2011.

 

Whereas the Bonnet Carre Spillway relieves pressure on the Mississippi River by diverting excess water into Lake Pontchartrain, Morganza eventually empties into the Atchafalaya Basin.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Towns along the Upper Mississippi River are dealing with some of the worst flooding they’ve ever seen. Busted levees. Flooded downtowns. What does that mean for us in Louisiana? When should we be concerned, and when should we not be?

WWNO’s Travis Lux called up Jeff Graschel, hydrologist at the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center in Slidell, Louisiana to get those answers, and more, for this week’s Coastal News Roundup.

 

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Army Corps of Engineers expects to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway Friday afternoon.

Located upriver from New Orleans, the Bonnet Carre Spillway acts as a release valve for the Mississippi River. When the water reaches a flow of 1.25 million cubic feet per second, the Corps opens the spillway to divert some of that water into Lake Pontchartrain.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Mississippi River has been at flood stage for months. Levees and spillways keep most homes and businesses safe and dry from the flood waters, but the high water still creates headaches for levee districts and industries like oil and gas, and fisheries.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO coastal reporter Travis Lux went to find out how the river creates problems we can’t always see. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland got the details.

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