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Mississippi River Commission member defends delayed decision on Morganza Spillway

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Posted: May 13, 2011 9:48 PM by Ashley Rodrigue
Updated: May 13, 2011 9:48 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Mississippi River Commission, Morganza Spillway, river, water, plan

HOUMA- The word to open the Morganza Flood Control Structure came Friday afternoon.

A team of people, known as the Mississippi River Commission, collaborate on the decision.

The seven-member board has had it's finger on the trigger of the Morganza Spillway, and one member tells News 2 it took so long to give the go-ahead because that's the plan.

"This, again, is a very touchy situation as far as the commanders are concerned that they follow the plan and they follow the manual on how to operate that."

The manual says to wait until a certain amount of water passes a certain point. And during that wait, the plan calls for preparing small towns, that will bear the brunt of the water, to save the big cities from seeing any at all.

Smith said, "You've got to balance those things and be prudent about it."

What the decision-making does not include is fear that the Morganza Flood Control Structure won't do its job, or will be over-topped, preventing proper functioning.

"It has been redesigned and rebuilt since the '73 flood, which was the last big test," said Smith, "They built a by-pass structure around it, they've also built a power plant north of it that allows for some more water to run through it. The people up there are very confident that the structure is in good shape."

There's also no doubt, in Smith's mind, the entire system is ready for its biggest test yet.

He said, "The project has taken about 75 years to build, the project has cost about $10-12 billion, the project is designed for a situation like we have today."

The commission will start riding the river daily starting tomorrow to watch the effects of the Morganza. That ride will be between Baton Rouge and New Orleans until the flood emergency is over.

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