Tuesday, May 17, 2011

america's achilles heel; the mississipi river's old river control structure

wunderground | America has an Achilles' heel. It lies on a quiet, unpopulated stretch of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, a few miles east of the tiny town of Simmesport. Rising up from the flat, wooded west flood plain of the Mississippi River tower four massive concrete and steel structures that would make a Pharaoh envious--the Army Corps' of Engineers greatest work, the billion-dollar Old River Control Structure. This marvel of modern civil engineering has, for fifty years, done what many thought impossible--impose man's will on the Mississippi River. Mark Twain, who captained a Mississippi river boat for many years, wrote in his book Life on the Mississippi, "ten thousand river commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or define it, cannot say to it "Go here," or Go there, and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over, and laugh at." The great river wants to carve a new path to the Gulf of Mexico; only the Old River Control Structure keeps it at bay. Failure of the Old River Control Structure would be a severe blow to America's economy, interrupting a huge portion of our imports and exports that ship along the Mississippi River. Closure of the Mississippi to shipping would cost $295 million per day, said Gary LaGrange, executive director of the Port of New Orleans, during a news conference Thursday. The structure will receive its most severe test in its history in the coming two weeks, as the Mississippi River's greatest flood on record crests at a level never before seen.

6 comments:

Uglyblackjohn said...

Many a civilization has been lost as a result of conditions caused by changing weather patterns. 

nanakwame said...

 @uglyblackjohn That is interesting , I know Diamond talks about it. Even Stalin had a debate about weather diasaters was a dominating factor for the revolutions. I am of opine that it is a factor yet it is still the movement of consciousness and willness to change that is primary, for everything must die and rebirth, life is not us. The more a nation suffers, the more it pushes the edges.
Even in the example of Easter Island, Pitcairn and Henderson Islands, there are still children of the past culture that still exist. Culture and Ecology are interwined. One thing we better be glad about is this nation’s water ways, even if one likes the dry heat of the South West.
 
Easter Island today, remains one of the most unique places you will ever encounter; an open air museum showcasing a fascinating, but unfortunately lost, culture. The Rapanui are among the friendliest people you will ever meet, and the landscape is truly amazing - with its volcanic craters, lava formations, beaches, brilliant blue water, and archaeological sites

CNu said...

The Corps of Engineers is fighting a battle they're absolutely bound to lose sooner or later, possibly sooner rather than later. Between this and the levies breaking several years ago, seems to me that the writing is plainly on the wall for the city of New Orleans

Dale Asberry said...

I know that my area is a significant producer of this flooding.  The Wabash River feeds into the Ohio River and the Wabash hasn't been inside it's banks since February.  So far we've gotten 10" of rain this year. For all of 2010, we only got 7". Heck, of those 10" we got 4" just last Saturday (nearly flooding our house). And, it's still raining. 9.5" of the 10" for the year had fallen in April and May only.  Considering that I'm in one of the most productive farming regions in the world and that the only thing in the ground at this point is winter wheat, it should be a signal of U.S. reduced crop output. We're definitely not going to have corn that's "knee high by the Fourth of July".

Dale Asberry said...

Got the rainfall info from the Plot Time Series from the NOAA

Tom said...

As a technical guy I love the juxtaposition of these two pictures and the Transcendence of Science thread!  It's not a simple message.