May 19th, 2011
06:24 PM ET

As flooding spreads, debate rages over price of manipulating Mother Nature

The river gives and the river takes away.

Which is perhaps why those who see the impact firsthand continue to look for solutions, hoping that something can be saved.

But whether manipulating the system to battle Mother Nature is worth the price - environmentally and financially - is a hot topic near Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Yazoo River, which drains into the Mississippi River, continues to put pressure on the levee system with backwater flooding spreading.  The South Delta often is inundated during heavy rains, and a flood like this one is overwhelming.

In this area, where the Mississippi is cresting, residents see a means of controlling the river, and they believe their state is getting a raw deal.

In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency vetoed Mississippi's plan to build the world's largest hydraulic pumping station where the Delta drains into the Yazoo, which in turn drains into the Mississippi. It was authorized as part of the Flood Control Act of 1941, but Congress didn't fully fund it. Several attempts to get it done have failed and the EPA veto appears to be the final hammer blow, with the EPA contending the project didn't meet all the requirements to proceed under the Clean Water Act.

Locals blame bureaucracy and lobbyists, and say a poor state is getting the shaft. They see Louisiana with all its pumping stations and feel slighted. But critics of Mississippi's plan say it would cost too much for too few people and that it would destroy wetlands.

Politically, this is one of the few instances where the left and the right seemed to be satisfied. Environmentalists certainly don't want a massive pump that sucks the life out of wetlands. Fiscal conservatives don't want to spend the $220 million federal tax dollars called for.

But many of the folks in Mississippi's South Delta feel caught in the middle. I truly feel for the people of Mississippi. I was here during Hurricane Katrina, during the BP oil spill, and now this epic flood. Unfortunately, the best long-term solution is to allow the Delta to flood naturally and let the wetlands rebuild back to the flood/storm buffer they once were. That requires relocating people and farmland. Not gonna happen.

Now the floodwaters are rising in Louisiana and flowing through the Atchafalaya Swamp. People in the floodway are fleeing their homes. Opening the Morganza Spillway is dumping valuable river nutrients into Louisiana's wetlands while flushing out some stuff that shouldn't be there, which scientists say is a good thing. Good for the ecology, but bad for the neighborhoods.

The river gives and the river takes away. I suppose that's the way it's always been, but our manipulation of the rivers over the last century has led to a dilemma that won't change anytime soon.

Post by:
Filed under: Mississippi • Weather
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. libertarian

    @scottishmama, I've wondered that myself, but then I remembered that the army corps of engineers isn't know for having too many intelligent ideas.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Lib, Maybe they read blogs? Nah

      May 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar

    @Fake Cesar: Your mother, stupid aszzzzz.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    Would add that another part of the problem is the way we elect politicians. Until we come up with some sort of funding alternative politicians on both sides are going to be beholden to the money changers. What the answer is I don't know yet.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      I have seen you discuss this before. Only people with money become president. Did Pres. Obama and McCain get into that a little bit? Wasn't Obama funded mostly by the people and McCain was upset because the pres. switched the way he was going to use the funds, it is hazy how it went down. Do you remember?

      May 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jswitalski

    People say what they want I'm for all the blue collar americans in this great land if they want to fight for what little they have that's there god given and american given rights, people who talk trash about other or about a really messed up issue are in my mind the realt idiots that ruin the good in others and the good in this great countryan I'm a TEXAN and also an AMERICAN ill say what's on my mind its my right, if u don't like what's going on help change it, or get your things packed out kick rocks as you leave the good old USA

    May 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      What Trash Texan?

      May 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. libertarian

    @scottishmama, don't believe it would help much. They pretty much do whatever they want. There's almost a constant battle about their handling of the Missouri river during the spring and summer. Then there is their damming of the salmon rivers that has started to cause major problems with the salmon runs. The four dams that cause the most damage aren't even hydroelectric and most of the people are wanting them torn down.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jswitalski

    Calling one another hillbillys and what not no need for that nonsense rather childish I would say

    May 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      This is a recurrence that always happens here. Before I could post to you I see Ellis is at it with his shtick. Someone took my name earlier and blogged a bunch of stuff I would never say.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ellis from Panama

    I like jumbo hot dogs with mayo at the tip.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jim

    Not much, I would prefer to see a bill passed where TV. stations had to a lot so much time to all parties as a public service, they are public airwaves after all. Then on touring only allowing each candidate to spend so much money. I haven't really been able to come up with an answer on how that could be funded though. My problem with any private funding is that it can be manipulated like with what happened with the Fiesta Bowl. I honestly don't have an answer wish I did.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Jim I have replied already, they must have fallen asleep at Cnn. I said what if the 40% independents put a bill thru an independent? and I think that since the dems and repubs have the corner market they may not give it up and vote yes to allow another party.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ellis from Panama

    I almost drowned in a barrel of human peee once. It was so dreadful. That's how I met one of my boyfriends. He is so strong.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    If I were to live on the very edge of a volcano and my house was destroyed by an eruption, I would not blame the government – I would blame my genes. Same goes for this article... the danger is very real and very obvious, people should accept the risk or move, they are not being forced to live there.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      No they were not forced to live there but they are not usually flood zones. they are corp of engineers sacrficial lambs to save towns. The people with the least to help the most they can.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ellis from Panama

    I just love a Mississippi man in tight jeans. OOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH me oh my!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm gay.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Calico

    If people want to live in a large, active flood plain that is their choice. But why do they expect the government to give them fed government backed flood insurance? Federal taxpayer paid Army Corps levees and pumps? Taxpayer-paid clean-ups and rescue efforts every so many years? And rather than admit they maybe shouldn't have built entire towns in low-lying areas in a river flood plain, they just demand even louder for more fed & state taxpayer funded giveaways? It's your choice to live there, but with freedom comes responsibility. You are responsible for your choices so please stop expecting to be rescued again and again.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spockette

      Calico, will you repeat your comment after California is hit with yet another earthquake?

      May 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Aaron

    Mississippi's Repub legislators have not done a good job of looking out for their best interests. They need to take Alaska as a role model. The richest state that gets the most federal handouts.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      With the least people? Maybe because they have more oil they get greased more?

      May 19, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Scottish Mama

    Good night all. Ellis you really need a job on Saturday night Live (SNL)

    May 19, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. brown

    Keep on re-electing them!

    May 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      What is the alternative?

      May 19, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
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