It’s high water time on the Mississippi River, a time which in the past built up south Louisiana.
Long ago, in our non-levee days, the river overflowed every spring and deposited its silt and fresh water into the wetlands along our coast where it grew into land that has turned into the most productive in the nation. But no longer does it grow since the river now is squeezed between two high levees that regulate its flow, along with its sediment, into the Gulf of Mexico.
This year, the buildup in the river may be high enough to require the opening of Bonnet Carre Spillway in Norco to help relieve it of its excess water load and steer it directly into Lake Pontchartrain through a channel.
A while back, it was thought that the spillway could serve a double purpose of saving us from floods during high water times while replicating the river overflow mission of the past. Instead of steering it directly into the lake, let it flow into the wetlands south of the lake to help build up the land of that area, much like Davis Pond Diversion does in south St. Charles Parish.
The original plan to save south Louisiana was to have many such diversions along the river to let Mother Nature take her course. But that was primarily talk and not much has been done to expand on the two main diversions that exist.
If the spill from the Bonnet Carre were allowed to spread into wetlands where it does not disturb the population, it could be a major help in our task of re-building our wetlands. But we would still need many more such diversions.
Maybe an opening of the spillway this year would remind us that, where Mississippi River water flows, the land grows. But not in the middle of Lake Pontchartrain.