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.

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Filed under: Mississippi • Weather
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. jim

    @scottishmama, sorry tried to reply several times. Apparently you can't use the word const i tution in any shape or form without getting censored. I was thinking maybe once the top three candidates had been decided, irrespective of party affiliation, they would all be federally funded based on what office they were running for. Once they used up their federal funds they wouldn't be able to spend any more on their campaign.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jim

    Unfortunately that would be in violation of the a fore mentioned word banned by CNN. I've tried to use that word over a dozen times and have been censored every single time. UNBELIEVABLE CNN.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      I have also written a couple of thing and they have not been printed. I will have to try

      May 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      sorry your first amendment right was violated jim

      May 20, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Scottish Mama

    Nope they would not let me either.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. almxx

    Mankind, including scientists and engineers, have to accept that working with nature is the only way to go. With the melting glaciers and more moisture in the atmosphere, these weather patterns could become ordinary.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      True. And mother nature changes all the time. A gentleman earlier said the river changes all the every 1000 years and we are keeping it in the same banks.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Scottish Mama

    But if someone was savvy or had connections to a channel they may get better play time or more time for less money.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. jim

    @scottishMama, guess it's a curse word to Ted Turner. Too funny.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. jim

    It would have to be strictly regulated for it to work. But as you said the powers that be will never change anything. They are more than content with being the big kids on the block.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      And then Frank – Dodd would take over and it would go to hill and a hand bag.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scottish Mama

    I also responded to your last statement and it did not get printed.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. libertarian

    An interesting fact. The. Nile constantly shifts. One pharaoh actually moved a whole city brick by brick due to the river changing course so drastically that it left the city without a water supply. The Pharaoh was known as the Silver Pharaoh because his cartushe was made of silver instead of the more common gold. I believe his name was Ptutmos not sure though. Also not sure if I spelled cartushe or Ptutmos right, I'm sure some one will let me know though.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Saw that on PBS but where do you move a society that claims land? Good night Lib.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Scottish Mama

    Good night again Jim I really need to go. They haven't come up with any changes and maybe you can make a difference, it may just start with you and a legislator you befriend. I have started children sports teams and associations this way, it had grown till I had to incorporate it. Watch out what you dream for, it may come true.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ellis from Panama

    I just loveeeeee cute guysssssssss

    May 20, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. jim


    May 20, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • TvNYC

      Hello... Life is short and time is worth money. Put all the material things and luxuries together in your life and think that losing those things is bad but not devastating because you are still here alive and well. Life is overwhelming sometimes but it'll get better. Take care!

      May 20, 2011 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. libertarian

    Not sure, interesting show though. They always have something interesting on secrets of the dead. Night.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ellis from Panama

    Hi, I swallow.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. The Dude

    Northern States who add to the economy > Leeching Southern trash states.

    They didn't "take one for America" This is all this part of the country is good for.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • PaddyReagan

      What are you–nine years old? Take away the food and energy you get from those "trash states" and your productive Northern States would shut down in months and freeze solid every winter. Meanwhile those of us who enjoy the beauty and charm of the south will be basking in the winter sun. Your grand industrial days are well past, you rust as you rant, and the Chinese take away more of your overpriced labor every year. In five years you'll be clawing your way south, praying someone will hire you for eight bucks an hour!

      May 20, 2011 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Cranky

      Actually I just moved south and I'm making $38 an hour doing the exact same thing I was in New England. The truth is that companies snap up people like me because of the higher percentage of undereducated populace you guys have down here.

      Such nice people and great weather, I'll probably never move back, though.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
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