Old River Control Structure vital during highwaters on Mississippi River

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 26, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 17 at 1:51 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

CONCORDIA, La. – A churning waterway of flying fish and rolling debris as Mississippi River water rushed through the Old River Control Structure.

“The Old River Control Structure is one the most important structures that the Corps of Engi,” Chris Accardo from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Old River Control System is actually several structures interconnecting the Mississippi, Atchafalaya and Red rivers, an effort which began in the 1800s to initially try and control the course of the Mississippi River.

The idea behind the Old River Control Structure is maintain an 70-30 split,  keeping 70 percent of the water headed down the Mississippi to Baton Rouge and New Orleans and 30 percent channeled to the Atchafalaya and Red rivers.

The structures keep the Mississippi River from changing course and prevent it from heading down the Atchafalaya.

The record amount of water flow on the Mississippi River means there is now more water flowing the Old River Control Structure than ever before in its history.

“It’s one the most important structures we’ve ever built because of nature of what we are doing, not only for keeping the flows within  levees but also navigation concerns,” said Accardo. “It’s a very important structure for the nation. It’s being used in this for this event right here, just that the volume coming down both rivers are higher than normal.”

This leads to potentially elevated water levels downstream, especially for people who live in the Atchafalaya Basin, and that is part of life along the waterways, especially the rivers whose existence is charted in part by the Old River Control System.

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