Now that Hurricane Harvey has gotten your attention, allow the words of Venerable Crawfish to offer some solution for Louisiana. The question is: will Lafayette, New Iberia, Breaux Bridge, Henderson, Charenton and other communities outside of the Atchafalaya Basin flood because of Hurricane Harvey?
In case you live under a rock, Harvey has already destroyed Houston with flood water.
Here’s the situation: all the rain that falls outside of the Atchafalaya Basin flows south through the existing bayou channels. The water is going south through the Teche and Vermilion channels come hell or literal high water. This usually works fine but factor in the “hurricane that never was of 2016” that dropped 30 inches of water on the south Louisiana. And what about a slow moving hurricane like Harvey that has flooded Houston with as much as 50 inches of rain?
So, how do you alleviate flooding in the Bayou Teche-Vermilion watershed? The answer is astonishingly simple. You pump it into the Atchafalaya Basin (AB).
“Wait a doggone minute,” you say. “The AB protects us from flooding. Ain’t that right?” Yes and no. What about trillions of gallons of water from a hurricane falling outside of the basin levees? Yes, what about it?
The AB protects us from flood water overflowing the Mississippi River banks and all its tributaries. The AB can contain all the water from the northern snow and ice melt with no problem. But when they built those big ol’ levee that stretches from Morganza to Morgan City to create a 20-mile wide basin, they cut off the distributary channels like Bayou Teche, Vermilion. Plaquemine, Lafourche and all the smaller canals and bayous. Those bayous used to help distribute the Mississippi River waters flow to the Gulf of Mexico. Now those channels are maintained because water is pumped out of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya and the Basin to mimic nature and keep the regular rate of water of those bayous flowing through it. The water flow keeps the Teche channel clear enough to move water and not silt up. But in times of late summer rainfall events (we had two last year), there is no way to get the rain water that falls outside of the AB into the AB.
So now we have a bunch of rain falling in Lafayette, Port Barre, Opelousas, Breaux Bridge and it all flows south but when there’s a slow moving storm like Harvey pushing water north and dumping billions of H2O gallons onto our Cajun cities what happens? Flooding. And haven’t even considered coast erosion land loss, subsidence, global warming and land development. Houston, Louisiana has a problem too.
The answer is simple: If they can pump water out of the AB, they can pump water into the AB. Build a pumping system that can put the water into the AB. The AB could handle all the water Harvey can dish out and more. The problem is Harvey is not dumping all of its water in the AB. It’s falling on your house in Broadmoor, North Bridge, Northside, Creswell Lane and Farmer Boudreaux’s farm land.
We’ve got to do something.
Disclaimer: Crawfish Report is written and published by crawfish. Although we’ve survived for more than 200 million years, we are not scientists. We’re crawfish who know a thing or two about hydrology.
Here’s what happens when the bayous get filled up with rain water: