Operation Watershed: USACE's Mississippi River Flood Fight

Tuesday May 24, 2011

What is it?

Our nation has been experiencing historic flood levels throughout the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and their tributaries that continue to threaten the lives and property of millions of people and waterborne commerce. Operation Watershed is U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) front line flood fight along with their partners in managing an entire system of reservoirs and control structures to mitigate flooding impacts mitigate flooding impacts . At the center of this effort is the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Project, an integrated system of locks, dams, levees, floodways and spillways managed by USACE. This system, designed to protect 4 million people, is being tested like never before.

What has the Army done?

USACE has maintained the MR&T system since it was first authorized after the 1927 floods. On May 2, at the direction of Mississippi River Commission President Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, USACE began operating the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway south of Cairo, Ill., to begin relieving pressure on the MR&T system. On May 9, USACE opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway, followed by the May 14 opening of the Morganza Floodway, to reduce the river's flow as it approached Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This is the first time all three components have been operational at the same time. Operating the Morganza Floodway is reducing the river's crest by approximately 2.5 feet between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

What does the Army have planned for the future?

USACE is currently operating the MR&T to reduce the extent and impact of flood stages in both urban and industrial areas on the lower Mississippi. The Bonnet Carre and Morganza will remain open until the river flow drops to 1.5 million cubic feet per second and is projected to continue decreasing. Operating the system is keeping Mississippi River flows lower and slower than originally forecast.

Why is this important to the Army?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a mission to manage and protect the nation's water resources. This current flood fight is a historic effort affecting the world's third largest watershed. Operating the MR&T system has reduced the risks of flooding for more than 4 million people, saved lives, reduced property damages and ensured continuing vital national commerce.

Resources:

Social Media links:

U.S. Corps of Engineers on Facebook

U.S. Corps of Engineers on Twitter

Related videos:

Operation Watershed-Cairo, Ill., Press Conference

Operation Watershed: Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway Press Conference 5.5.2011

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