Have Flood Controls on the Mississippi River Been Successful?
ES1308  New Approaches to Flood Control

Before human intervention, excess water from a flood simply spread out and covered a river's natural floodplain. Over time, levees and other structures have increasingly blocked the river's access to this natural "sponge" area for absorbing floodwaters. Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers has begun considering new approaches to moderating flooding, including reestablishing hardwood forests on floodplains and designing structures that maintain more natural flows in rivers.

  !   Examine these images that show some new approaches to flood control. How successful do you think these strategies will be next time flood conditions occur on the Mississippi River?

NOAA U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Levee opening at Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana. Intentionally opening a levee allows river water to flow into an adjacent swamp. Cypress swamp, Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana. Reestablishing swamps and wetlands along the river enhances the land's ability to absorb excess water during flood events.
NOAA Agricultural Research Service
River flow near Grand Bay, Louisiana. Levees can be adjusted, allowing water to overflow into adjacent wetlands. Agricultural researcher examining early-maturing soybeans in Mississippi. Planting flood-tolerant crops on floodplains can reduce farmers' losses during flooding events.

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