Oct 07 2011

Managing the Mississippi Video

The video for this week is a bit longer but it discusses some of the history and procedures of the river engineering of the Mississippi and the Corps of Engineers’ work to keep the channel where it currently is. It’s interesting in how they lay out the revetment and the number of people it takes to install and maintain it.


The debate after the massive flooding this year has revolved around coming up with a new strategy and possibly allowing for more room for a floodway. However, even if you started to take this route for the Mississippi, its history shows there will always be some need for control and revetment because the meander path of the Mississippi is quite large!


  1. Dan Baker

    Pretty thick propaganda in that video to do our best to lock the river in place. I have never seen the natural process meander evolution presented in such a destructive context, with no mention that the sediment needed to balance those processes is currently filling up reservoirs upstream.

    This past year’s floods again demonstrate that attempting to ‘control’ this large of a river in fine grained alluvial sediments is a very expensive battle that can never be truly won.

    I realize that we will not abandon the billions of dollars of development in the natural floodplain of the lower Mississippi, but providing a wider floodway will help reduce the massive maintenance costs currently interred by the American taxpayers.

    1. Anthony Alvarado

      Dan, thanks for your comment. I agree – you definitely have to take that video with a grain of salt, hence why I bring up the floodway issue at the end. I agree with you that a solution including a wider floodway will ultimately save dollars and better protect people. It’s just so extremely difficult to change the status quo that has been in place for so long! It’s not just the Mississippi either – almost every single major river has massive encroachment either agricultural or urban. The Sacramento Valley system is a good model with bypasses and additional floodways but even it has flaws in how channelized most of it is. We’ll see where things go after all the flooding we’ve had this year exposing much of the weaknesses of the system.

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