Governor Bobby Jindal sent a letter today to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting that the Corps increase the water flow through the Old River Control Structure into the Atchafalaya Basin. Governor Jindal states in his letter that below-normal water levels in the Atchafalaya Basin have resulted in adverse effects on water quality and crawfish harvests.
State Representative and Atchafalaya Basin Legislative Oversight Committee Chairman Karen St. Germain said, "I appreciate the Governor calling on the Army Corps to increase the flow of water into the Atchafalaya Basin. Increasing the flow is not only important to sustain our natural resources but also Louisiana's economy which relies heavily on the strength of our fisheries."
Governor Jindal's Letter:
May 1, 2012
Major General John W. Peabody, Commander
Mississippi River Valley Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1400 Walnut Street
Vicksburg, MS 39180
Dear General Peabody:
I respectfully request your reevaluation of flows through the Old River Control Structure. Below-normal water levels have resulted in numerous complaints about effects on water quality and wild crawfish harvest in portions of the Atchafalaya Basin. Atchafalaya Basin water levels recently dropped to between 6 and 7 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, far below the 1959-2011 average stages that exceeded 15 feet in late April. Some areas that crawfishermen were recently able to fish are now inaccessible due to low water levels.
We recognize that the abnormally low water levels are likely related to a mild winter, with reduced runoff in the Mississippi River watershed. Nevertheless, continued low water levels are reportedly cutting the crawfish harvest season short in portions of the Basin. Those reductions can have significant economic impacts. Based on the above concerns, I request that a flow deviation be considered to provide increased water levels in the Atchafalaya Basin. It is my understanding that a deviation could be achieved without causing adverse effects on navigation or either the Mississippi or Atchafalaya Basin systems.
Thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this request.
cc: Colonel Edward R. Fleming, District Commander, New Orleans District
Scott Angelle, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
Robert Barham, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Peggy Hatch, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality