Structure opened to control Delta flooding

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As the Mississippi Delta continues to feel the effects of flooding, the Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is working to bring the water levels down.

On Monday, the USACE opened the Steele Bayou Control Structure, located approximately 10 miles north of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Steele Bayou Control Structure, which was built in 1969, combined with the Mississippi River and Yazoo Backwater levees, prevents the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers from backing up and further flooding the Delta.

Due to excessive rainfall in the Mississippi Valley and Yazoo Basin in late February, the Steele Bayou Control Structure’s gates have been closed since Feb. 15. The structure’s gates are opened when elevations on the Mississippi River fall below the elevation of water in the interior Yazoo Backwater area. 

In March, the interior Yazoo Backwater area reached its highest elevation since 1979. The opening of the structure will allow the backwater area to gradually drain. National Weather Service forecasts indicate that the Mississippi River will continue to fall slowly throughout the week.

“We have experienced below average rainfall during these last few weeks in March and are relieved that stages on the Mississippi River are gradually falling,” said Vicksburg District Commander Col. Michael Derosier. “We remain vigilant as we enter the spring rainy season with an already high Mississippi River and interior Yazoo backwater area.”

Related: Leaders ask for federal help as flooding continues

The Vicksburg District’s Emergency Operations Center remains activated as moderate to major flooding persists throughout the region. The district will continue to provide support in the form of technical and material assistance to local, state and federal partners. In February and March, district personnel deployed approximately 72,000 sandbags and several water pumps that have been utilized throughout the region.

District personnel and their local partners will continue to monitor the conditions of flood control works, including levees, flood walls and pumping stations across the entirety of the district’s jurisdiction. The district has observed no significant issues at its flood control sites.

Citizens are encouraged to contact local authorities and management officials for updates about conditions in their area and should avoid activities on or near flood control works.

The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. 

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