Corps agrees to send more water to Atchafalaya basin

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted a request from the state to send more water from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya Basin, a move aimed at improving water quality in the swamp, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office announced Tuesday.

The Atchafalaya River is fed by the Mississippi River and the Red River, but the amount of the Mississippi allowed to flow into the Atchafalaya is carefully managed by the Old River Control Structure near Simmesport.

Federal guidelines require the amount of the Mississippi River flowing into the Atchafalaya generally be kept at 30 percent, a strategy to keep the Mississippi from changing course and taking the route of the Atchafalaya.

The corps has agreed to raise the cap to at least 33 percent for 15 days and possibly for another 15 days after that, according to the Governor’s Office.

The additional water in the Atchafalaya will hopefully prepare the swamp system for a year in which water levels are expected to be lower than normal, said Garret Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.