US Army Corps of Engineers
Vicksburg District

Civil Works

Civil Works Mission and Vision: Dedicated to providing quality, responsive service to the nation in peace and war.   The mission of civil works is a major component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Civil Works programs include water resource development activities including flood risk management, navigation, recreation, and infrastructure and environmental stewardship.  Our mission also includes emergency response.

As the nation’s environmental engineer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages one of the largest federal environmental missions: restoring degraded ecosystems; constructing sustainable facilities; regulating waterways; managing natural resources; and, cleaning up contaminated sites from past military activities. 

The Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of the lands and waters of our nation. Its civil works mission is to manage and conserve America's waterways for navigation and commerce and stay consistent with ecosystem management principles, in addition to providing quality public outdoor recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations.

Mississippi Delta Headwaters Project

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Example of streambank caving in the project areaThe Mississippi Delta Headwaters Project (MDHP) was authorized in 1984 to provide a means for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, to work cooperatively and demonstrate various methods to reduce flooding and major sediment and erosion problems in areas of the Yazoo Basin in northwest Mississippi. Technical assistance was obtained by joint agency effort from the U. S. Department of Agriculture Sedimentation Laboratory at Oxford, Mississippi, the United States Geological Survey and the Engineer Research Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The original six authorized watersheds were Hotophia Creek, Batupan Bogue, Hickahala Creek, Black Creek, Otoucalofa Creek, and Long Creek. Subsequent authorizations added 10 other watersheds to the DEC project: Burney Branch, Sherman Creek, Town Creek (Charleston), Toby Tubby Creek, Abiaca Creek, Coldwater River, Hurricane-Wolf Creeks, Cane-Mussacuna Creeks, Pelucia Creek, and Yalobusha River.  The watersheds range in size from 220 acres to 423,000 acres and total 1,887,000 acres or approximately 2,950 square miles.

Erosion at the head of a stream (called headcutting)The widespread problems and damages in the watersheds are of sufficient magnitude and complexity that a comprehensive watershed approach is required. 

There are a number of major structural features utilized in the MDHP to achieve the reduction of flooding, sediment and erosion.

These features include riser pipe grade control structures, low and high drop grade control structures, floodwater retarding structures and bank stabilization measures.

 

 

Public Law 98-8, Emergency Jobs Appropriation Action of 1983, provided initial authorization of the MDHP. Public Law 98-50, Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act for FY 84, further directed joint effort by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the NRCS for the foothills area of the Yazoo Basin. The authorizing legislation directed the two agencies to work cooperatively toward the continuation of erosion, flood and sediment control in the Yazoo Basin Hill Region.

Q: Can erosion control work be done anywhere as part of MDHP?
A: No, the project is limited to only the watersheds authorized by Congress.


Q: Is work as a part of MDHP for public/governmental agencies only? 
A: No, MDHP can be used to address erosion or sedimentation problems anywhere within the authorized watersheds.


Q: How can I get an erosion or sedimentation problem addressed as a part of MDHP?
A: Contact your local Natural Resource Conservation Service representative or the MDHP Project Manager.


Q: What benefits are derived from erosion control?
A:  Project features limit the amount of erosion. This preserves land and decreases the amount of sediment entering streams. This in turn reduces the need for dredging to restore flood flow capacities downstream, prolongs the life of downstream reservoirs, and keeps sediment contaminated with agricultural chemicals out of streams. This improves water quality and fish habitat.


Q: What impact does MDHP have on the environment?
A: MDHP helps to improve water quality by reducing sediment load in the streams. Stable streambeds provide better breeding areas for fish which results in larger fish populations in the streams. Stable banks also provide habitat for other wildlife populations.


Q: Is MDHP primarily an urban or rural project?
A: The bulk of MDHP work is done in rural areas of the authorized watersheds. However MDHP has also been used to provide for flood control and bank stabilization in urban areas.


Q: How does MDHP differ from traditional erosion control works.
A: Most traditional erosion control work is done to protect a specific site. Although MDHP does address specific site erosion, the project takes a watershed- wide, systems approach to erosion, sedimentation and flood control. The primary approach is to stabilize the streams by constructing grade control structures, armoring streambanks where necessary, and limiting the influx of sediment to the stream systems through the use of drop structures and land treatment measures.


Q: Where can work be done as a part of MDHP.
A: Only in the 16 watersheds specifically authorized by Congress. These watersheds are located in the Yazoo River hill area roughly between Yazoo City, MS and the Tennessee state line.


Q: How can I get an erosion or sedimentation problem addressed as a part of MDHP.
A: The Natural resource Conservation Service (NRCS) works in partnership with the Corps of Engineers to accomplish the MDHP program. To discuss a potential MDHP project you may contact the NRCS representative for your county or contact the MDHP Project Manager, Mr. John Trest, at the Vicksburg District Corps of Engineers.


Q: Can the methods of MDHP be adapted by local, municipal and state governments.
A: Yes, the individual structure types used in MDHP are easily adaptable by other government entities. 
 


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Big Sunflower River Maintenance

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 The Big Sunflower River This is the Big Sunflower River Maintenance Project Web site. This project will perform maintenance to restore design flow capacity of the Big Sunflower Project completed in the 1960’s.

The original construction work consisted of channel cleanout, clearing and snagging, and channel diversions. The maintenance work will restore the authorized flood control capacity of approximately 130 miles of the original 663 miles of channels where the capacity has diminished due to sediment accumulation since project completion.

The Big Sunflower RiverThe maintenance is designed to avoid and minimize adverse resource impacts. This will be accomplished primarily by hydraulic dredge and/or clearing and snagging.  These methods of maintenance minimize the impacts on bottomland hardwoods and farmed wetlands. Maintenance activities are to be accomplished by ten separate items of work. 

The first maintenance item contract, Item 3, which includes 7.2 miles of clearing and snagging on the Little Sunflower River, was completed in August 2000. 

The project was scheduled for completion in June 2008. However, the District is currently preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to update the environmental documentation. The draft SEIS is scheduled for release in November 2007.

 

 

Channel improvements for flood control on the Big Sunflower, Little Sunflower, Hushpuckena, and Quiver Rivers and their tributaries were authorized by the Flood Control Act (FCA) of 22 December 1944.
The Big Sunflower River Basin encompasses approximately 4,200 of the 13,355 square miles within the Yazoo Basin located in northwest Mississippi. The population within the impacted counties of Humphreys, Sharkey, Sunflower, Washington, and Yazoo totaled  140,487 in 1999. The average annual rainfall  is approximately 54 inches.

Construction of the Big Sunflower River Project was initiated in the 1940's and completed in the 1960's, with the exception of the work on Steele Bayou.  This headwater flood control project, which includes channel improvements on approximately 700 miles of the Big Sunflower River, Little Sunflower River, Steele Bayou, Bogue Phalia, Quiver River and other tributaries,  is a component of the Yazoo Basin Project that, in turn, is a feature of the overall Mississippi River and Tributaries Project.

Extensive flooding occurred in the lower Sunflower Basin in the summer of 1989 and again in the spring and winter of 1991. After the 1989 event, citizens in the area expressed serious concerns that the project was not performing as it should.

  Engineering analyses confirmed that the system had lost some of the channel capacity that existed when the project was completed due to vegetation and sedimentation in the channel. Measurements indicate that the sediment depths range from 2-5 feet above the original channel cross-sections.   

 This loss of channel capacity has resulted in a corresponding increase in water levels. All of the Big Sunflower River has shown some sedimentation deposits. 

The recommended maintenance will achieve a slight stage reduction for floods of the 1991 magnitude. Stages for more frequent floods will be reduced by up to three feet. 

Water and sediment data collected within the basin indicate that pesticides, including DDT, are found in the sediments.  By removing accumulated sediments from the river this project will actually remove the DDT attached to the sediment particles and place it in confined disposal areas.

This process is very similar to one the  U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to use on the Hudson River in New York.  On December 6, 2000, the EPA announced a plan to clean up the Hudson River by removing sediment from the bottom of the river. (containing toxic materials and PCB's)

The Hudson River Plan is essentially what is proposed for the Big Sunflower River Maintenance Project.

DDT
The Vicksburg District prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to update information that has been gathered since the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was completed in July of 1996. The draft EA was released for public comment in Feb of 2002. Below are partial test results and impacts pertaining to DDT. Additional information on this and other environmental concerns can be found in the Draft EA in our "What's New" section.

DDT Facts:

* DDT has been banned since 1973.

* DDT does degrade but has a long life.

* DDT is not very water soluble.

* DDT is very persistent in that it binds to clay particles in the soil.

* DDT in agricultural fields in the Delta contains significantly higher levels of DDT than the sediments in waterways.

* Over the years since the banning of DDT, there has been 120 feet of rainfall on the Delta. In spite of this large amount of rainfall DDT has not released itself from soil particles and mixed with water.

* DDT gets into the fish beginning at the bottom of the food chain. Small organisms feed on the DDT contaminated sediment. Larger organisms then feed on the small organisms and so on through each step of the food chain. Eventually DDT levels are measurable in fish.


Resulting Impacts of DDT following Dredging Projects:

* Removal of DDT latent sediment from Rivers and Streams by dredging has reduced the river's DDT content in the remaining river bottom. This in turn decreases the amount of sediment containing DDT available to the fish.

* Since dredging the Upper Steele Bayou, the presence of DDT in fish tissue has fallen significantly. Bottom feeding fish makeup the majority of the fish species sampled.

Summary:

The Corps maintenance of the Big Sunflower River has benefits to the environment, specifically to the streams, rivers and fish population. The dredged sediment will be placed on land in confined disposal areas. Our test results thus far have proven that important water quality benefits will result if the DDT sediment is removed from the riverbed. Since fish testing has begun, DDT concentrations have decreased approximately by 85%. Testing of fish tissue has shown that DDT levels reduced significantly and are well below the 6.0 parts per million (PPM) (EPA's limit for banning fish for human consumption) following the Upper Steel Bayou Channel Improvement Project. In fact, most of the fish tested were below the 1.0-PPM limit for no restriction. Similar testing results are expected for the type of work planned on the Big Sunflower.

Q: Will dredging increase peak flow rates of the river and increase flooding downstream?

A: No, the maintenance will not increase flooding downstream. The increased channel capacity that results from dredging will allow the same flow to pass at a lower level (i.e. the original design flow-line).
Q: Will vegetation clearing lead to soil instability and cause continued loss of land due to erosion?

A: The project could induce some minor temporary stream bank erosion; preventative measures will be required to prevent  sediment from re-entering the stream during maintenance. Counter measures will be taken to repair and correct any project induced erosion problems.
Q: How much reduction in flooding does the project provide?  

A: The channels within the project reach have experienced from 3 to 5 feet of sediment deposition. The amount of deposition varies from reach to reach. Our studies show that the project will result in a 1 to 3 feet lowering of flowlines for frequent flood events.
Q: What effect will river flows have on the Mainline Levee downstream?

A: None, the maintenance project is not expected to impact the mainline downstream levees.
Q: Are there impacts to cultural resources?

A: Cultural resources considerations were identified as part of the initial planning stages of this project. All cultural resources issues will be resolved prior to initiation of maintenance work.
Q: Did the Corps evaluate impacts to the environment?

A: Yes, impacts to significant resources were documented in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), July 1996 . An Environmental Assessment (EA) was being prepared to include additional data on Pondberry, DDT,  mussels, and bats. The new data collected to date support findings presented in the 1996 SEIS. Based on public comments, a supplemental EIS is being prepared. The draft SEIS is scheduled for completion in November 2007. 
Q: Will the project enhance the environment?

A: Yes, features are incorporated into the design of the project to enhance the environment. In order to compensate 100% for impacts to wetlands, mitigation for terrestrial and waterfowl and aquatic resources will be more than compensated for losses. In addition, flood damages will be reduced in the study area and 1,912 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land will be reforested.
Q: Will the project increase DDT levels in the river?

A: No, water and sediment data collected within the basin indicate that DDT is found in the sediments. DDT is hydrophobic, meaning DDT does not mix with water. This project will remove the DDT laden sediments from the riverbed and place them in upland confined disposal areas.

The placement of the contaminated sediment in upland confined disposal areas is a win-win situation.  DDT bioaccumulates in the aquatic environment (water body) by attaching itself to the sediments, but it does not bioaccumulate in the terrestrial environment (on land).  Thus the environmental risk of DDT is lessened, when it is removed from the river and placed on land in a confined area.  This reasoning is the same as was applied by the EPA in its recent decision that PCB contaminated sediment be removed from the Hudson River.


Q: Is there any mitigation for environmental impact of this project?

A: Yes, mitigation for wetland losses will more than compensate for terrestrial, waterfowl and aquatic resources. 

A total of 1,912 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land will be acquired for mitigation purposes. The first 287 acres have been purchased.

We are currently in the process of acquiring other lands from willing sellers.


Q: Where is DDT located? 

A: DDT binds itself to soil particles. These soil bound DDT particles are still found in agricultural fields. Some soil particles bound with DDT have accumulated in Delta stream sediments. Testing has reveled that DDT does not mix with water. In locations where dredging has occurred and sediment was removed from the water, DDT levels in fish tissue decreased by 85%. 
Q: Will DDT wash from the soil?
 
A: No, DDT stays attached to the soil particles and does not dissolve into the water. DDT is hydrophobic, meaning it does not mix well with water. Scientists have been monitoring DDT levels in water, sediment and fish in the Delta since the mid-1960. DDT has seldom been detected in water samples collected after 1980. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks concluded in a 1985 report that "Continued routine pesticide monitoring no longer appears to be providing productive and useful information when calculated levels are below the EPA's minimum detectable standards." (Statewide Fisheries Management Project, D-J Federal Aid Project F-68, Survey of Pesticide Parameters, Freshwater Fisheries Report Number 43, 1 Oct 1980-31 Jul 1985.)
Q: Why does DDT persist in the environment?

A: DDT's persistence is partially due to its adherence to soil particles. DDT's degradation is biologically mediated. Bacteria can use DDT as a source of energy. Bacteria cannot ingest DDT bound to soil particles, thus they cannot degrade it. DDT's half-life is 16 years. This means that the concentration of DDT will be reduced by one-half every 16 years. DDT is subject to photo degradation (decomposition by ultra-violet light), but it again is protected from photo degradation when adhered to soil particles.
Q: What are the levels of total DDT in the river sediments in each of the river segments to be cleared and snagged? (By “total DDT” or “TDDT” we mean DDT and its metabolites, DDE and DDD.) ?
A: Below are the DDT levels tested in the Dowling Bayou. To put these levels in perspective, they are approximately 25% of the mean levels taken in some agricultural fields tested in the Delta.
Mile DDD DDE DDT TDDT
0 1.5 2.8 2.8 7.1
2 9.2 12 3.7 24.9
5.8  39.4 81.3 29.8 150.5
5.8  39.8 68.8 59.2 136.0
8.0 50.3 85.7 18.7 154.7
Note: Units are in Parts Per Billion (PPB)

Q: What measures, if any, will the Corps take to prevent contaminated river sediments from being brought to the surface and re-suspended by the clearing and snagging?
A:
The work will be performed during low water conditions. Fallen trees, under growth and snags, and selected trees which block channel conveyance will be removed. Disturbance of the sediment will be incidental and minimal.


Q: What measures, if any, will the Corps take to prevent the destruction of fish habitat resulting from the clearing and snagging?
A: Assuming the question is related to structural habitat, the contract documents will require the contractor to clear debris from the stream channel such as logs and other discarded material. Also small trees and shrubs along the bank, above the low water line, will be removed. In an effort to minimize the removal of fish habitat, larger trees will remain to provide overhang and shade for the stream. Most of the clearing and snagging work will be performed above the water line. 

However, to mitigate the necessary removal of some fish habitat various alternatives were considered (Refer to Volume I, Mitigation Plan of the “Project Report and Supplement No. 2 to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, dated July 1996). Structural habitat will be added to some reaches of the project. In those reaches, as a part of the mussel mitigation measures, 1.2 acres of riprap will be placed on banks and dikes below ordinary high water elevations. 

This riprap will double as fish habitat as well. Also structures consisting of 6.3 acres or 5,512 linear feet of logs and debris in-stream will be anchored to the streambed during project construction.


Q: Will dredging increase peak flow rates of the river and increase flooding downstream?
A:
No, the maintenance will not increase flooding downstream. The increased channel capacity that results from dredging will allow the same flow to pass at a lower level (i.e., the original design flowline). 


Q: Will vegetation clearing lead to soil instability and cause continued loss of land due to erosion?
A: The project could induce some minor temporary streambank erosion; preventative measures will be required to prevent sediment from reentering the stream during maintenance. Countermeasures will be taken to repair and correct any project-induced erosion problems. 


Q: How much reduction in flooding does the project provide? 
A:
The channels within the project reach have experienced from 3 to 5 feet of sediment deposition. The amount of deposition varies from reach to reach. Our studies show that the project will result in a 1 to 3 feet lowering of flow-lines for frequent flood events. 


Q: What effect will river flows have on the mainline levee downstream?
A:
None, the maintenance project is not expected to impact the mainline downstream levees. 


Q: Are there impacts to cultural resources?
A:
Cultural resources considerations were identified as part of the initial planning stages of this project. All cultural resources issues will be resolved prior to initiation of maintenance work. 

Q: Did the Corps evaluate impacts to the environment?
A: Yes, impacts to resources were documented in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), July 1996. An Environmental Assessment (EA) was being prepared to include additional data on Pondberry, DDT, mussels, and bats. The new data collected to date support findings presented in the 1996 SEIS. Based on public comments, a Supplemental EIS is being prepared. The Draft SEIS is scheduled for completion in November 2007. 


Q: Will the project enhance the environment? 
A: Yes, features are incorporated into the design of the project to enhance the environment. In order to compensate 100 percent for impacts to wetlands, mitigation for terrestrial, waterfowl, and aquatic resources will be more than compensated for losses. In addition, flood damages will be reduced in the study area and 1,912 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land will be reforested. 


Q: Will the project increase DDT levels in the river?
A: No, water and sediment data collected within the basin indicate that DDT is found in the sediments. DDT is hydrophobic, meaning DDT does not mix with water. This project will remove the DDT laden sediments from the riverbed and place them in upland confined disposal areas. The placement of the contaminated sediment in upland confined disposal areas is a win-win situation. DDT bio-accumulates in the aquatic environment (water body), but it does not bio-accumulate in the terrestrial environment (on land). Thus, the environmental risk of DDT is lessened when it is removed from the river and placed on land in a confined area. This reasoning is the same as was applied by the EPA in its recent decision that PCB-contaminated sediment be removed from the Hudson River.


Q: Is there any mitigation for environmental impact of this project?
A: Yes, mitigation for wetland loses will more than compensate for terrestrial, waterfowl and aquatic resources. A total of 1,912 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land will be acquired for mitigation purposes. The first 287 acres have been purchased. We are currently in the process of acquiring other lands from willing sellers.


Q: Where is DDT located?
A: DDT binds itself to soil particles. These soil-bound DDT particles are still found in agricultural fields. Some soil particles bound with DDT have accumulated in Delta stream sediments. Testing has revealed that DDT does not mix with water. In locations where dredging has occurred and sediment was removed from the water, DDT levels in fish tissue decreased by 85 percent.


Q: Will DDT wash from the soil?
A: DDT stays attached to the soil particles and does not dissolve into the water. DDT is hydrophobic, meaning it does not mix well with water. Scientists have been monitoring DDT levels in water, sediment and fish in the Delta since the mid-1960's. DDT has seldom been detected in water samples collected after 1980. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks concluded in a 1985 report that "Continued routine pesticide monitoring no longer appears to be providing productive and useful information when calculated levels are below the EPA's minimum detectable standards." 


Q: Why does DDT persist in the environment?
A: DDT's persistence is partially due to its adherence to soil particles. DDT's degradation is biologically mediated. Bacteria can use DDT as a source of energy. Bacteria cannot ingest DDT bound to soil particles, thus they cannot degrade it. DDT's half-life is 16 years. This means that the concentration of DDT will be reduced by one-half every 16 years. DDT is subject to photo degradation (decomposition by ultra-violet light), but it is protected from photo degradation when adhered to soil particles.


Q: What measures, if any, will the Corps take to prevent contaminated river sediments from being brought to the surface and re-suspended by the clearing and snagging?
A: The work will be performed during low water conditions. Fallen trees, under growth and snags, and selected trees which block channel conveyance will be removed. Most of this work will be performed above the water line. Disturbance of the sediment will be incidental and minimal. 


Q: What measures, if any, will the Corps take to prevent the destruction of fish habitat resulting from the clearing and snagging? 
A: Assuming the question is related to structural habitat, the contract documents will require the contractor to clear debris such as logs and other discarded material from the stream channel. Also small trees and shrubs along the bank, above the low water line, will be removed. In an effort to minimize the removal of fish habitat, larger trees will remain to provide overhang and shade for the stream. Most clearing and snagging work will be performed above the water line. However, to mitigate for necessary removal of some fish habitat, various alternatives were considered. Structural habitat will be added in some reaches of the project. In those reaches, as a part of the mussel mitigation measures, 1.2 acres of riprap will be placed on banks and dikes below ordinary high water elevations. This riprap will double as fish habitat as well. Also 6.3 acres or 5,512 linear feet of logs and debris in-stream will be anchored to the streambed during project maintenance.

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- 01 November 2002 - CORPS  ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR BIG SUNFLOWER EIS SUPPLEMENT

VICKSBURG, MISS...The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it will prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on the Big Sunflower Maintenance Project in the central Mississippi delta.

We decided to prepare the SEIS as a result of the Environmental Assessment (EA) process and comments received during the public comment period for the EA," said Michael Logue, public affairs officer for the Corps' Vicksburg District.

The EA process produced a great deal of new scientific and environmental information that needs to be included in the project's overall impact statement," Logue said.

The announcement of the Corps' intent to prepare the SEIS will be published in the Federal Register in November.

Logue said the process, which will take about a year to complete a draft report, would continue public involvement, scoping and public awareness activities.

A public scoping meeting to identify issues that should be addressed in the SEIS will be held on December 3, 2002 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the South Delta High School in Rolling Fork, Miss.

The process will also allow the Corps to incorporate new engineering techniques, which are more acceptable by landowners. "Our goal is to ensure the project provides the needed flood reduction while maintaining its economic and environmental sustainability."

The maintenance project will restore channel capacity of the flood control project completed in the 1960s. The project lowers flood stages along the Big Sunflower system by 1 to 3 feet.

The first maintenance item contract, Item 3, which included 7.2 miles of clearing and snagging on the Little Sunflower River, has been completed.

Project mitigation features developed through the SEIS process will fully compensate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands, terrestrial, waterfowl, and aquatic resources.

The Corps will continue to strive to achieve environmental sustainability while providing authorized flood reduction in the Big Sunflower River Project area.

The Corps has published a public web site on the Big Sunflower River Maintenance Project.


- 02 April 2002 - Clarion Ledger Article by James V. Walker with Corps Responses Inserted

Clarion Ledger: Joe Woodard has watched the Big Sunflower River roll past for 40 years. He saw the bottomlands cleared in the 1960s to make way for soybeans. As a farmer, he was a true believer for the first two decades in the dogma of Delta flood control: move the water out, keep the farmland high and dry. 

"I thought that was the solution - just drain the whole thing," Woodard said. "It's never too late to say we were wrong."

Corps Response: The Corps agrees "just drain the whole thing" is the wrong thing. The Corps plan for the Big Sunflower River is simply to restore 1960's channel capacity to areas in the river system which no longer have adequate channel conveyance to pass flood flows. Channel maintenance will reduce flood stages by up to three feet. Grade control structures originally installed as part of the project will provide aquatic habitat and prevent the stream from completely drying up in the summer months. 

Clarion Ledger: But American Rivers spokeswoman Melissa Samet said the projects would be "horribly devastating" environmentally, draining 200,000 acres of irreplaceable wetland habitat, destroying one of the world's largest freshwater mussel beds and possibly stirring up poisonous DDT that has collected in the riverbed. 

Corps Response: Impacts to wetland resources by the Big Sunflower River Project would occur on 476 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land and 443 acres of forested wetlands. As compensation, the project plan includes reforestation of 1,912 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land. 
Extensive studies of mussels were conducted by the Engineering Research Development Center in Vicksburg. High-density mussel beds occur at only three very small locations in the project area. The remaining locations support only moderately or low density populations. The highest concentrations of mussels in the Big Sunflower River are along both riverbanks. Based on these studies, areas of the highest mussel concentrations will be avoided by use of no work reaches and by restricting dredging to the center one third of the streambed. In addition, a mitigation plan will be implemented. This plan will consist of dike fields, bank protection, gravel beds, and fish attractors. Mitigation features will be monitored for 10 years. 

A Risk Assessment prepared by independent Environmental Consultants Menzie Cura & Associates, found human health risks are essentially equivalent with or without the dredging project. In fact, DDT that has collected in the riverbed will be removed from the streams and placed along with the material dredged from the channel in containment areas. Short-term (10-15 years) water quality in the project streams will actually improve due to the dredging. 

Clarion Ledger: Woodard has seen erosion steadily cut away at his family's land on the riverbank, a problem he blames partially on the corps' previous dredging of the Big Sunflower in the early 1960s. But his objections to the current projects are as a taxpayer. 
The lowest-lying land, the land that often floods, is often the lowest-yield land even when dry because of the high clay content. 

"Any land high enough elevated to be good land is already drained," he said. Woodard scoffed at the idea of paying hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce flooding on unproductive farmland. 
"The cheapest thing for the taxpayers would be to pay people to put it back to forest," he said. That option, replanting bottomland hardwoods and paying owners of marginal land for flowage or conservation easements, is championed by many of the corps' environmentalist critics.

Corps Response: Bank erosion, such as found on Mr. Woodard's property on the Big Sunflower River, is common throughout the nation. Much of the sediment to be removed from the Big Sunflower River comes from rainfall runoff entering the river uncontrolled and eroding banks. The planned channel maintenance will help to reduce the bank erosion occurring due to channel flows.

Flood reduction will enhance the quality of life for area residents and protect existing development while providing the secure environment necessary for economic development. The project plan includes purchase and reforestation of 1,912 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land. Easements will be purchased on agricultural lands for disposal of dredge material in confined disposal facilities . These confined disposal facilities can also be reforested and provide excellent hunting areas for landowners to use or lease. Both mitigation and confined disposal facility lands are purchased from willing sellers. 


- 7 March, 2002 - Environmental Assessment


Past Items

- 14 August, 2001 - A Response to the Opinion Column in the Clarion Ledger August 6, 2001 by Mr. Louie Miller, Legislative Director of the Mississippi Chapter, Sierra Club.

- June29, 2001 - Letter to the Editor of the Clarion Ledger 

- May 4, 2001 - The Sierra Club and a local landowner filed an administrative appeal challenging the Water Quality Certificate issued to the Corps for this project.

J. Bennett Johnston Waterway

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Barge navigating the JBJ WaterwayThe Project has formerly been referred to as the Mississippi River to Shreveport, Louisiana, reach of the Red River Waterway. The opening of the waterway to the Shreveport/Bossier City area in December 1994 was the culmination of more than 150 years of effort by local citizens to provide a safe, dependable, navigation system for the Red River.

The Louisiana Legislature created the Red River Waterway Commission to serve as the project sponsor in the mid 1960s.  The Commission has the responsibility for providing all of the necessary lands for the project purposes.  The project lands remain in State ownership through the Commission except at the lock and dam sites, which will be transferred to Federal ownership.  The Commission continues to work closely with the Corps towards completing construction of the project.  Additionally, they will operate and maintain recreation facilities that are not on Federal land throughout the project area and manage the mitigation lands acquired.

The project generates jobs, stimulates the development of port facilities, increases water related recreational opportunities, prevents further loss of valuable land and infrastructure along the river’s banks and the navigation dams provide a potential source of hydropower.

Both aquatic and waterfowl resources benefit from the project. The Waterway has had a positive impact on the fish and waterfowl population of the region. Increasingly the Waterway is becoming a major flyway for migratory birds  and also has become a prominent fishing area. More information on the environmental features of the project is addressed on the following pages. 

Barge locking thru with a heavy loadThe project consists of a 9-foot deep by 200-foot wide navigation channel that commences at the confluence of Old and Red Rivers and proceeds upstream for 236 miles to the Shreveport-Bossier City area.  Five navigation locks with usable dimensions of 84-feet wide by 705-feet long provide the necessary lift of approximately 141 feet.  The locks can accommodate a standard 6-barge tow and towboat in a single lockage.

The project also provides for realigning the banks of the Red River by means of dredging, cutoffs, and training works and stabilizing its banks by means of revetments, dikes, and other structural methods.  Facilities to provide recreation and fish and wildlife are also integral to the project.

The comprehensive Red River Waterway Project was authorized by the River and Harbors Act of 1968.  Details of the authorized plan, consisting of four distinct reaches, were included in House Document 304, 90th Congress, 2nd Session. 

Design of the project began in fiscal year (FY) 1969.  In FY73 construction funds were first authorized and project construction began. The navigation channel opened in 1994.  In the FY97 Energy and Water Development Appropriation Act, Public Law 104-206, the Mississippi River to Shreveport reach of the overall Red River Waterway Project was renamed the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway.

Navigation along the Red River of the 1800’s was treacherous due to the Great Red River Raft.  The Red River raft was a result of the highly erodible soils of the Red River alluvial valley being carved by each high water event on the river.  As the river moved back and forth across its alluvial plain, trees were undermined along the riverbanks and fell into the river.  These trees formed a discontinuous series of logjams that extended approximately 150 miles along the river from the vicinity of present day Natchitoches to the Louisiana-Arkansas State line. The raft artificially raised the banks of the river and forced the creation of numerous distributaries of the Red – evidence of which can still be seen today.  Also formed were numerous raft lakes along the river in low spots along the tributaries to the Red.  These raft lakes were transitory in nature.  Many of these lakes have been lost.  Lake Iatt, Clear-Black and Saline Lakes, Nantachie Lake, Wallace Lake, Lake Bistineau, and Caddo Lake are some of the raft lakes that were preserved by building dams to maintain the lakes.  The raft was not stationary, rather it was inexorably moving upstream at about a fifth of a mile per year.  As pieces of the raft broke up and floated downstream on the lower end, new logs and debris were added to the upper end.  As the channel naturally cleared on the lower end, the Red River channel would deepen and drain the raft lakes and close off the distributaries leaving a single river channel.

Piecemeal attempts were made to clear the raft starting in the 1830s.  Portions of the raft would be cleared for a brief period but it would eventually reform.  Captain Henry Miller Shreve dramatically increased the pace of the natural clearing of the logjam with the invention of the snag-boat.  By the mid 1870s, the raft had been cleared.  Steamboats plying the Mississippi River could now go up the Red River to Shreveport and points north as well as west into Texas along Cypress Bayou to Jefferson, Texas.  However as the railroad commerce expanded in the late 1800s, steamboat commerce declined.  Removal of the Red River raft caused the river to scour its channel deeper making the river have unusually high banks.  Because of these unnaturally high banks, bank erosion became a tremendous problem on the river.  Thousands and thousands of acres of productive land would be eroded by the river and deposited downstream as less productive sandbars.  This continual erosion also led to shoaling in the river making navigation treacherous. 

In an attempt to improve Red River navigation, Congress authorized the Red River below Fulton, Arkansas Project in 1892.  The project provided for improvements from Fulton, Arkansas to the Atchafalaya River by systematic clearing of banks, snagging, dredging shoals, building levees, closing outlets, revetting caving banks, and preventing injurious cutoffs.  No channel dimensions were specified.

Congress modified the project in 1946 by authorization of the Overton-Red River Waterway.  This project provided for the construction of a 9-foot deep by 100-foot wide navigation channel from the Mississippi River via Old and Red Rivers for about 31 miles, and via a new land cut above river mile 31 generally following existing streams along the right descending bank of the Red River flood plain to a turning basin on Bayou Pierre at Shreveport, Louisiana.  The 205 mile long project consisted of 9 locks 56 feet by 650 feet, a pumping plant, drainage structures and appurtenances.

In 1950, Congress modified the Red River below Fulton Project to provide a channel 9 feet deep by 100 feet wide from the exit point of the Overton Red River Waterway at Mile 31 to the mouth of the Black River at mile 35.5 in connection with the modification of the 9-foot by 100-foot Ouachita-Black River Project from the mouth of the Black River to Camden, Arkansas

The River and Harbor Act of 1968 modified these and other prior projects in authorizing the present day waterway.

To make the Red River navigable; it was necessary to train the river into a stable alignment.  This requires considerable ingenuity and a systems approach to the overall design.  A design memorandum was developed in the early 1970s that provided the channel geometry and conditions necessary to provide 9-foot navigation.  Part of the design involved shortening the river by approximately 50 miles between the Mississippi River and Shreveport.  Early in this process, the Corps recognized the environmental importance of the resulting severed oxbows.  A mitigative design feature of the project called for conservation of 26 of these oxbow lakes by constructing a closure dam on the upstream end of the oxbow and leaving the downstream end open to the river.  This allowed the oxbows to remain hydraulically connected to the river and provide environmental benefits to the project. 

Heron fishing on the  Red RiverBy the mid 1990s, due to the high sediment load carried by the Red it became apparent that the downstream ends of some of these oxbows were filling in and over time these oxbows would be closed off from the river if nothing was done.  The Corps conducted a study that showed that it was environmentally acceptable, technically sound and economically feasible to dredge the downstream ends of these oxbows in order to maintain the hydraulic connection to the river.  Dredging at selected oxbows is conducted annually based on survey data of the oxbows designated for conservation.  The oxbow lakes provide an outstanding sport fishery resource as evidenced by the many fishing tournaments held annually on the river.

Supplement 2 to the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project was completed in 1983.  The EIS showed that aquatic and waterfowl resources were enhanced by the project above pre-project levels.  Bottomland hardwoods however were adversely impacted due to inundation caused by impoundment of the navigation pools.  Bottomland hardwood losses below Alexandria, Louisiana were mitigated by purchases at the Tensas National Wildlife refuge. 40,000 acres were purchased by the Corps to mitigate for 6 Corps projects, three of which will not be constructed.  A mitigation report completed in 1984 showed that 14,000 acres of existing bottomland hardwoods should be acquired to offset bottomland hardwood losses above Alexandria.  In 1986, Congress authorized mitigation for the project based on this report. 

In 1990, Congress authorized an additional 12,000 acres of mitigation lands to be purchased for the project as well.  To date, approximately 6500 acres of bottomland hardwoods have been acquired.  These lands are primarily in Caddo and Bossier Parish.  Acquisition of suitable lands from willing sellers is continuing.  Congress has further modified the mitigation project to allow that mitigation lands may be purchased in any of these parishes:  Avoyelles, Rapides, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Bossier, and Caddo.  After acquisition, the mitigation lands will remain in Federal ownership, but  management will be accomplished by the Red River Waterway Commission.

Q: Did the Red River Waterway Project go through a public review process prior to authorization?  
A: The project was formulated in the first half of the 1960s.  An Interim Report on Navigation and Bank Stabilization was published in 1966.  This report went through the exhaustive review process.  Public meetings were held, and the views of the public, local government, State,  and other Federal Agencies were solicited and used in plan formulation.  The Office of the Chief of Engineers, the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and the Bureau of the Budget (the forerunner of OMB) provided thorough reviews of the recommendations.  All of the reviewer’s reports and results of public and agency comments can be found in the documentation supporting the authorizing legislation.  At every stage, the navigation reach of the Red River Waterway Project between the Mississippi River and Shreveport, Louisiana was found to be economically feasible, technically sound and environmentally acceptable.  This extensive review process culminated in authorization of the project in the 1968 River and Harbor Act.


Q: Are there any port facilities located on the river to utilize the locks and dams?  
A: Yes, opening the navigation channel was a great feat, however, a navigation channel by itself, does not generate barge movements.  Adequate transfer facilities are necessary to allow shippers to utilize the waterway.  Port development along the Red River is the responsibility of the State and local governments.  In 1995, when navigation was fully opened to the Shreveport area, the Alexandria, Louisiana port was operational.  The Caddo-Bossier Port was fully operational in April 1997.  The Natchitoches Parish Port has completed transfer facilities and is fully operational, and a port in Red River Parish is in the early stages of development.  Over the last 5 years, several private terminals have developed along the waterway as well.  


Q: How much tonnage has been moved on the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway and is it meeting projections? 
A:  In 1997, tonnage was approximately 2.6 million tons.  This was the year that the waterway tonnage started the transition from construction materials for the waterway to commercial commodities.  By 1999, the latest year statistics are available; the tonnage had increased to 3.82 million tons, compared to 3.74 predicted.  This shows that the project is exceeding tonnage projections.  Over the 50-year economic life of the project, tonnage is projected to grow to 16 million tons by 2046.  The project is currently showing an upward trend in commodity growth and we anticipate that this trend will continue.  


Q: Has the navigation project improved the quality of the Red River’s water? 
A:  Extensive water quality data was collected over the last 20 years to provide baseline information for determining the impacts of the project.  The data shows that the project is having little impact on the water chemistry of the river.  The appearance of the water is greatly improved because post-project suspended solid levels are significantly lower.  The lower levels of suspended solids and minimum pool levels have greatly enhanced the fisheries.  The underlying water quality parameters are essentially unchanged.  Once these sediments are re-suspended during higher river flows, the river’s appearance returns to its characteristic reddish color.


Q: What benefits are derived from the inland navigation system? 
A:  Our national inland waterway system carries some 630 million tons of cargo per year.  630 million tons of cargo equates to 420,000 barges.  To move this cargo by alternative means would require an additional 24 million trucks on our nation’s highway system or an additional 6.3 million rail cars on the nation’s rail system.  That is a considerable amount of traffic to add to either of these overburdened systems.  A ton of cargo moved by truck can be carried 59 miles per gallon of fuel.  By rail this figure jumps to 202 miles.  But, by barge the figure jumps to 514 miles.  River transportation is almost 10 times as fuel efficient as transportation by truck.  Another point to consider is pollutants produced by movements of cargo.  The primary pollutants are hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide.  The total pounds of these emissions per ton-mile of cargo are 0.13 for trucks, 0.03 for trains and 0.01 for towboats.  That is, for 630 million tons of cargo mentioned above; trucks would produce 80 million pounds of pollutants versus 6.3 million pounds for towboats for every mile that these 630 million tons are moved.  From any standpoint, it is obvious that barge traffic is the more environmentally benign mode of transport.


Q: Aren’t barges too slow to effectively move commodities in a just-in-time economy?  
A: Commodities that are suitable for shipping by barge are not the types of commodities that are required by the just-in-time economy; rather they are bulk commodities such as coal, aggregate, sand, rock, steel products, agricultural products, fertilizer, wood products, petroleum products, etc.  These are not just-in-time commodities.  These are commodities that are stockpiled for use.  River transportation is the logical and efficient method of transporting these commodities. 

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Recreation along  the Project Reach is booming.  Visitation to Corps and Red River Waterway Commission recreation sites is approaching 2,000,000 visitors annually.  The sites are distributed throughout the five navigation pools and scattered throughout the length of each pool.  Recreation is cost shared between the Corps and the Commission, and the  Commission  operates and maintains the recreation sites.  The types of recreation provided are day use areas with play fields and picnic facilities, boat ramps, bank fishing areas, nature trails, comfort stations, parking areas, amphitheaters, and recreational vehicle camp sites.  A limited number of day use facilities,  parking areas and comfort stations are also provided at the five lock and dam sites.  For more information on the recreation available on the Red River please visit the Red River Waterway Commssion website.

Small Projects Program

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the Federal government's largest water resources development and management agency. Its responsibilities as authorized by Congress, include flood damage reduction, improvements to river navigation, hydropower, environmental sustainment, and control of stream bank erosion.

At the request of local interests, Corps assistance in developing and implementing solutions to water resources problems is available under one of two Congressional authorities. Problems which are large in scope require specific Congressional authorization; however, in instances where problems are generally "small" in scope, the Corps may act directly under its Continuing Authorities Program, also referred to as the Small Projects Program.

Continuing Authorities Program

The Continuing Authorities Program allows the Corps to respond more quickly than is possible through the specific Congressional authorization process. This is because Congress has delegated to the Corps general authority to study and, if proven feasible, approve and construct certain water resources development projects. 

 The program is comprised of different types of projects, each with its own project authority and strict limit on the Federal contribution. As favorable studies progress towards more detailed design and construction, certain project costs must be shared with the local sponsor including any and all costs in excess of Federal project limits. 

 For this reason, the local sponsor must be a non-Federal entity with the power to raise revenue sufficient to satisfy requirements of local cooperation.

Flood Plain Management Services

Jackson MS flooding in 1972The FPMS Program provides the full range of technical services and planning guidance that is needed to support effective flood plain management.

The program's authority is provided by Section 206 of the Flood Control Act of 1960, as amended. Its objective is to foster public understanding of the options for dealing with flood hazards and to promote prudent use and management of the Nation's flood plains.

Land use adjustments based on proper planning and the employment of techniques for reducing flood damages provide a rational way to balance the advantages and disadvantages of human settlement on flood plains. These adjustments are the key to sound flood plain management.

Planning Assistance to States

Section 22 of the Water Resources Development Act WRDA of 74, as amended, provides authority for the Corps of Engineers to assist the States, local governments, and other non-Federal entities in the preparation of comprehensive plans for the development, utilization, and conservation of water and
related land resources. Section 208 of the WRDA of 1992 amended the WRDA of 1974 to include Native American Tribes as equivalent to a state.

The Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Program is funded annually by Congress. Federal allotments for each State or Tribe from the nation-wide appropriation are limited to $500,000 annually, but typically are much less. Individual studies, of which there may be more than one per State or Tribe per year, generally cost $25,000 to $75,000. These studies are cost shared on a 50 percent Federal - 50 percent non-Federal basis.

Service For Others

 The Vicksburg District provides quality engineering and other professional services to develop and manage environmentally sustainable water resources and other projects in an effective, efficient, and responsive manner to meet or exceed our customers expectations. We work in partnership by using the capabilities of the private sector for many services.

Section Authority

Federal 
Study 
Limit

Implementation
Cost/Share

Federal Share Limit

Fed Non-Fed
Section 14 Flood Control
Act of 1946 (as amended)
$40,000 65%   35% $1,000,000
Section 22 Water Resources Development 
Act of 1974 (as amended)
$500,000 50% 50%

n/a

Section 103 River and Harbor 
Act of 1962 (as amended)
$100,000 65% 35% $2,000,000
Section 107 River and Harbor 
Act of 1960 (as amended)
$100,000 80% 20% $4,000,000
Section 111 River and Harbor 
Act of 1968 (as amended)
$100,000 65% 35% $2,000,000
Section 204 Water Resources Development 
Act of 1992 (as amended)
$10,000 75% 25% $5,000,000
Section 205  Flood Control 
Act 1948 (as amended)
$100,000 65% 35% $7,000,000
Section 206 Water Resources Development 
Act of 1996 
$10,000 65% 35% $5,000,000
Section 206 Flood Control
Act of 1960 
n/a 100% 0% n/a
Section 208  Flood Control 
Act of 1954 (as amended)
$40,000 65% 35% $500,000
Section 1135 Water Resources Development
 Act of 1986 (as amended)
$10,000 75% 25% $5,000,000
Small Flood Control ( Section 205 )
Work under this authority provides for local protection from flooding by  the construction or improvement of flood control works such as levees, channels, and dams. Non-structural alternatives are also considered and may include measures such as installation of flood warning systems,  raising and/or flood-proofing of structures, and relocation of flood prone facilities.
 
Emergency Streambank and Shoreline Protection  ( Section 14 )
This authority is intended to prevent erosion damages to highways, bridge approaches, public works, and other non-profit public facilities by the emergency construction or repair of streambank and shoreline protection works.
 
Snagging and Clearing for Flood Control ( Section 208 )
This authority provides for local protection from flooding by channel clearing and excavation, with limited embankment construction by use of materials from the clearing operation only.
 
Small Navigation Projects ( Section 107 )
Work under this authority is intended to provide improvements to navigation including dredging of channels, widening of turning basins, and construction of navigation aids.

Mitigation of Shore Damages ( Section 111 )
Work under this authority provides for the prevention or mitigation of  erosion damages to public or privately owned shores along the coastline of the United States when these damages are a result of a Federal navigation project. This authority cannot be used for shore damages caused by river bank erosion or vessel-generated wave wash. It is not intended to restore shorelines to historic  dimensions, but only to reduce erosion to the level that would have existed without the construction of a Federal navigation project. Cost-sharing may not be required for this program. If the Federal cost limitation is exceeded, specific Congressional authorization is required.
 
Project Modifications for Improvements to the Environment ( Section 1135 )
This authority provides for ecosystem restoration through modification to Corps structures or operation of Corps structures or implementation of restoration features when the construction of a Corps project has contributed to degradation of the quality of the environment.
 
Ecosystem Restoration Projects in Connection with Dredging ( Section 204 )
Work under this authority provides for protection, restoration, and creation of aquatic and wetland habitats in connection with construction and maintenance dredging of an authorized project.
 
Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration ( Section 206 )
This authority provides for the restoration and protection of aquatic ecosystems if the project will improve the environment and is in the public interest.
 
Small Beach Erosion Control Projects ( Section 103 )
Work under this authority provides for protection or restoration of public shorelines by the construction of revetments, groins, and jetties, and may also include periodic sand replenishment.
How does the program work?

Once a request for assistance is received, funds are requested to begin the planning process. When funds are received, the Vicksburg District begins its planning process. Problems are identified, alternatives formulated, and solutions proposed. Before a proposed solution can be approved and constructed, four questions must be answered favorably.

Is the solution feasible from an engineering standpoint?

Thorough analyses of engineering considerations are always made, including soils, seismic, hydrologic and hydraulic, structural design, and materials availability. Alternatives which present serious technical problems are usually eliminated from consideration.


Is the solution economically justifiable?

Economic justification means that a project must have more benefits than costs or for ecosystem restoration projects, the unit cost for the environmental benefits must be reasonable. With few exceptions, all Federal Civil Works projects must be economically justified.


Is the solution environmentally sound?

Environmental analysis involves a thorough review of environmental conditions and the impact that construction would have. In general, adverse impacts must be mitigated and the cost of mitigation is included in project implementation costs. An environmental assessment is required
for all continuing authorities projects.


Are local authorities willing and able to share in costs of planning and construction, as required by Congress?

If a feasible solution is identified the project advances. The local authorities may be required to provide certain items of local cooperation. These items include funds for project planning and construction, as well as all lands, easements, rights-of-way, relocations of utilities, streets, highways, bridges, buildings, storm drains, and other structures and improvements and disposal areas. Specific cost-sharing regulations will be discussed with the local sponsor early in the planning process.


How do you request help?

Assistance through the Continuing Authorities Program begins with a request from a responsible local sponsor such as a city council, county board of supervisors, director of public works, flood control agency, or environmental organization.

To request assistance, contact the Vicksburg District by writing


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Vicksburg District 
ATTN: CEMVK-PP-D
4155 Clay Street
Vicksburg, MS 39183-3435

Call the Continuing Authorities Program Manager at (601) 631-7154
or E-mail at: Barbara.A.Petersen@USACE.ARMY.MIL

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The Vicksburg District has a project manager for the Continuing Authorities Program and one coordinator to handle Flood Plain Management Services and Planning Assistance  to State Programs. All planning and technical aspects of these programs are handled within the District's offices and managed by the appropriate manager. Everything from environmental to flood damage reduction is covered under these programs.

Southeast Arkansas Feasibility Study

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Welcome to the Vicksburg District's web site for the Southeast Arkansas Feasibility Study.  This study will evaluate water resources needs throughout the 1.2-million-acre Boeuf-Tensas Basin.

The study area includes the Boeuf-Tensas and Bayou Bartholomew areas of southeast Arkansas.  Counties in the study area are Jefferson, Lincoln, Drew, Ashley, Chicot and Desha.

The Corps of Engineers is working with state and Federal agencies, area interests and citizens to find progressive solutions to these challenges.

Accurate and timely information is critical to the effective resolution of many issues associated with this study. 

 This web site has been established to provide you the information you need to stay informed.

 

STUDY NAME AND STATE:  Southeast Arkansas, AR, Study

AUTHORIZATION Resolution of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works adopted 23 June 1988.

The Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement was signed by The Vicksburg District, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the project sponsors (Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission and Boeuf - Tensas Regional Irrigation Water Distribution District) on 26 Apr. 2000.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION:  The Southeast Arkansas, AR Feasibility Study area includes the Boeuf-Tensas and Bayou Bartholomew areas of southeast Arkansas.  Counties in the study area include Jefferson, Lincoln, Drew, Ashley, Chicot, and Desha.  Flooding between November 1982 and January 1983 caused damages in excess of $47 million to approximately 1,170,000 acres of primarily agricultural lands in the Boeuf-Tensas Basin.  

Extensive agricultural water use has impacted ground-water resources in the alluvial aquifer underlying the study area.  The study will address these problems along with environmental problems and needs including the loss of wetland and aquatic habitat, and waterfowl needs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE:

  • Calibration/Optimization of Alluvial Aquifer Model by USGS

  • Construction of Hydrologic Basin Models

  • Collection of Environmental and Water Quality Data

  • NRCS Water Budget and Distribution Layout

  • Existing Conditions Hydraulic Analysis

  • Existing Conditions Economic and Environmental Analysis

  • With Project Hydraulic Analysis for 2 Flood Control Plans

POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVES:

  • Supplemental Water from Arkansas River

  • Channel Enlargement for Water Supply and Flood Control

  • Reforestation in Areas with Flood Control/Chloride/Water Supply Problems

  • Implementation of Conversation Practices

FY2006 Activities:

  • Evaluate Alternatives

  • Evaluate Institutional Requirements

  • Continue Interagency Coordination

  • Develop NRCS "On Farm" plan

SCHEDULE:  Draft Feasibility Report - Dec 2007

ISSUES AND OTHER INFORMATION:  Feasibility Study costs are shared equally by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the non-federal sponsors, including some in-kind work by the sponsors.

Problems with flooding and irrigation water supplies throughout the Southeast Arkansas area resulted in the adoption of a resolution by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works dated 23 June 1988.  The resolution reads:

 “Resolved by the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the United States Senate, that the Secretary of the Army, through the Chief of Engineers, is currently conducting the Boeuf-Tensas Basin, South Arkansas and North Louisiana Study, to investigate measures for providing a plan for the development, utilization, and conservation, of water and related land resources of the Boeuf-Tensas Basin, the Secretary is hereby directed to expand the ongoing investigations and coordinate with the Soil Conservation Service to jointly develop a multipurpose flood control and comprehensive agricultural water supply plan, including a system of distributary canals for Chicot, Desha, Drew, Lincoln, and Jefferson Counties in Southeast Arkansas.”   

Following the adoption of this resolution, the Vicksburg District conducted a reconnaissance study of these problems for the Southeast Arkansas area.  A favorable reconnaissance report identifying a feasible multipurpose flood control and agricultural water supply plan was submitted to the Mississippi River Commission on Feb 26,1991.  

As groundwater levels continued to decline, Congress added funds in the FY 98 and FY99 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Acts to initiate feasibility phase studies for the Southeast Arkansas area.  

 The Vicksburg District in conjunction with the sponsors (Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and Boeuf-Tensas Regional Irrigation Water Distribution District) prepared a Project Study Plan which was completed in Feb 2000, laying out the cost and schedule for feasibility phase studies

A Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement was negotiated with the sponsors and signed on April 26, 2000.  Feasibility studies were initiated following this milestone and will continue for approximately 8 years.

 

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The Southeast Arkansas study area is bounded on the east by the Mississippi River, on the north by the Arkansas River, on the west by the hill line adjacent to Bayou Bartholomew, and on the south by the Arkansas-Louisiana state line.  Counties included in the study area are Jefferson, Lincoln, Drew, Ashley, Chicot, and Desha.   The study area encompasses approximately 1.2 million acres.  This study will address current flooding and agricultural water supply problems and needs and provisions to restore, protect, and/or enhance the environment.

  The study area is characterized by level, mostly cleared land.  This delta area has a flat to slightly undulating surface created by the sedimentation of flood deposits.  The topography is further differentiated by crescent-shaped lakes, the remnants of changes in stream courses.

   The study area is physiographically located in the Boeuf-Tensas Basin, a sub province of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.  Sediments in the Boeuf-Tensas Basin are Quaternary in age and mainly consist of a fine-grained top stratum of silt and clay, overlying a coarse-grained substratum aquifer which consists mostly of sand and gravel.  The substratum aquifer underlies the entire study area.   Underlying the Quaternary alluvium at depths of 150 to 200 feet are Eocene-age sediments of the Claiborne and Jackson Groups.

   Major streams in the study area include Bayou Bartholomew, Boeuf River, and Bayou Macon.  Other tributaries of these streams include Big Bayou Canal; Black Pond Slough; Canals 18, 19, 43, and 81; and numerous other creeks and bayous.  With the exception of Bayou Bartholomew, all of the major streams in the study area are either manmade canals or have been channelized.  The canals and channelized streams are primarily flood control projects.  Bayou Bartholomew is a natural unchannelized stream.  The Mississippi River and Arkansas River lie outside of the study area, but will be evaluated since they are possible sources of import water and recharge for the area.

 

Southwest Arkansas Navigation Study

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. The purpose of the Southwest Arkansas Navigation Study is to determine the feasibility of extending navigation along the Red River above Shreveport-Bossier City into southwest Arkansas. The study will evaluate not only the potential savings to the nation in transportation costs, but also other benefits such as lower flood stages, hydropower, water supply, bank stabilization and recreation. The Vicksburg District is committed to conducting a comprehensive and thorough study of both benefits and impacts.
Authority for the feasibility study is contained in Section 402 of the Water Resources Act of 1996(Public Law 104-303) as a follow-on to a reconnaissance study that was completed in November 1995. The feasibility study will take the analysis a step higher, addressing the subjects in the reconnaissance report at a greater level of detail.

The Red River above Shreveport is presently unsuitable for commercial navigation. The water is fairly low during most of the year and negligible during the summer. There are numerous sandbars that constantly shift position. The channel migrates, producing extensive bank caving. There are many sharp bends in the river that would be difficult for towboats with barges to negotiate. 

The river has already been modified to a considerable degree. Some bends have been cut off, producing oxbow lakes; and revetments are currently being constructed to stabilize the banks so that land loss will be reduced. However, to make the river suitable for navigation, it will be necessary to construct features similar to those below Shreveport-Bossier City. 

What is Needed? 
Locks and dams will need to be constructed to provide pools of water through which barges can be moved and enable them to move from one water level to another. Bank revetments and channel constriction and stabilization dikes will be needed to keep the channel in place. Bridges (railroad and highway) and pipelines crossing the river will be evaluated to see if their alignments and clearances necessitate relocation. 

Engineering analyses of the location and design of these features is fundamental, and the engineering studies have already begun. Reducing the project construction cost by reducing the number of locks and dams will be given special attention. 
The feasibility of extending navigation will evaluate three heads of navigation: Index, Fulton, and Garland, Arkansas. Index is north of Texarkana; Fulton is to the east of Texarkana; and Garland is the southernmost site. 

Finding A Solution? 
The primary national benefit of a navigation project is transportation cost savings. Since barges are a relatively low-cost transport mode, businesses and industries in the region that would be able to use the navigation project would realize reductions in their transportation costs which would translate into a cheaper cost for the consumer. The study will devote a great deal of effort to identifying the potential users of navigation in the region and to analyzing transportation cost reductions that would be achieved by switching to barge transport.

The second most important benefit in determining the feasibility of a navigation project is associated national project benefits. These benefits may be produced as a natural result of project construction, through special project designs, or through features that are added to those necessary to achieve navigation. The associated project benefits that will be analyzed during the study include hydropower, flood control, recreation, bank stabilization, water supply, and fish and wildlife. 

Benefits/Impacts 
The study will address each of the potential associated project benefits in a systematic fashion, looking at the costs as well as the benefits. Revetments would automatically produce benefits through reductions in land loss. 
Navigation pools will provide opportunities for a great amount of recreation, but these opportunities can only be fully realized through the construction of boat ramps and parks. 
Hydropower could be produced through modification of the dam to include hydropower turbines. 

The concept of environmental engineering, which looks at the ways a project can be designed to achieve the highest benefits for fish and wildlife, will be brought into play. The objective will be to achieve some of the environmental benefits that have been integral to the project below Shreveport, with their accompanying recreation benefits. 

In addition to associated benefits, the study will analyze the economic development benefits that would accrue to the region. Navigation projects expand the industrial base and provide inducements for the location of new industries, which produce increased employment and income for the people of an area. These regional economic development benefits have become increasingly important in evaluating projects. 

The study will also address social and cultural resources, fish and wildlife, water quality, sedimentation, geology, ground water, and esthetics. Extensive investigations will be made of existing terrestrial and aquatic resources to determine the best ways to avoid or minimize disturbances from construction and to determine what compensation is needed where impacts cannot be avoided. The upper Red River region was used intensively by prehistoric and historic Native Americans. Cultural resource studies will investigate this region and will recommend appropriate preservation or recovery measures for identified impacted historic sites.

The study will be conducted over approximately 4 1/2 years by the Vicksburg District, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation with the Arkansas Red River Commission. Study results and recommendations will be fully coordinated with the public. 

Q:  Why is the Corps considering this project again? 

A:  The Congress, in response to support from ARRC, authorized and funded the feasibility study. The Congress has agreed to match the funds with the sponsor because of the strong support for a project demonstrated by their willingness to bear half the cost of the study. 


Q:  Didn't you study this project once before? 

A:  Yes, several years ago, we completed a reconnaissance study, the forerunner to a feasibility study, and could not recommend going into the next phase of the study, based on the information gathered. In fairness to the region, this study was only one year long at a cost of $300,000. The feasibility study would be much more detailed and gather additional information about benefits as well as changes in design that could lower cost. 


Q: How have cost projections changed since the last study?

A:  Our preliminary engineering indications are that we may be able to reduce the size and number of the locks, greatly lowering costs from the original reconnaissance projections. In addition, area leaders have worked hard to identify potential users of the waterway which is increasing the benefits base.  


Q:  How has the waterway project below Shreveport-Bossier City done to date? 

A:  The J. Bennett Johnston Waterway is quickly becoming a great success story. Tonnage figures are equaling or exceeding Corps initial projections and environmental and recreation benefits are really turning heads. The project is reporting a return of the least tern and brown pelican, as well as tremendous increases in water quality and stability. Instead of a wild, unstable river, the Red is now a beautiful river featuring oxbow lakes every few miles. Ports along the waterway have attracted industry and more are scheduled to appear. The leaders of the Red have worked hard to market the great benefits of the JBJWW and their efforts are paying off. 


Q:  How would this project benefit the area? 

A:  Although the study is far from complete, we know from history and our experiences on the Red that savings would be realized in transportation savings, either by shipping commodities on the waterway, or reducing rates charged by other transportation sources. Other benefits would include water supply, hydropower, recreation, and bank stabilization. While we are not allowed to count them in our cost to benefit analysis, we are required to note regional benefits such as jobs created by the project, by the development of the Red, and resulting industry. 


Q:  What about environmental impacts? 

A:  To get an appreciation for the environmental benefits, one only needs to look at the completed JBJWW downstream. Similar benefits and impacts would be expected. In addition, this project would, for the most part, remain, in stream, not creating the many cutoffs required on the lower river. This would greatly reduce environmental impacts. 


Q:  Wouldn't this take tonnage from the Ouachita? 

A:  Our experience has shown tonnage on the Ouachita has continued to grow while tonnage on the Red has nearly doubled in the past few years.

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The study area includes ten counties in southwest Arkansas, three counties in southeast Oklahoma, nine counties in northeast Texas, and two parishes in northwest Louisiana. This area has been identified as the location of potential users of navigation and the region that would be benefited by the construction of a navigation project.

The region is largely rural, with significant population concentrations in the Shreveport-Bossier City and Texarkana areas. More than half of the land in the study area is forested, and much of the rest of the land is devoted to agriculture. Many of the largest industries in the region are based on natural resources. The lumber and paper industries, for example, are important users of regional forestry resources.

Alternative Project Plans
  Alternative plans to extend navigation on the Red River into Southwest Arkansas have been identified and are under investigation. 

  Because of the few additional transportation benefits gained from extending navigation from Fulton to Index, the Corps is not evaluating the Index alternative to the same level of detail as the other alternatives.

Plan A - The Two Lock and Dam Plan to Garland
Lock and Dam 6 is located at river mile 250.0 (1989 river mile) above the I-220 bridge, north of Shreveport, LA.
The navigation pool created by Lock and Dam 6 would have a pool elevation of 175 feet National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) and a vertical lift of 30 feet.The location of Lock and Dam 6 is the same for all alternatives. Lock and Dam 7 would be located at river mile 287.0 and have a pool elevation of 199 feet, NGVD. This alternative would provide 9-foot navigation to the vicinity of Garland at U. S. Highway 82.

Plan B - The Three Lock and Dam Plan to Fulton

The three lock and dam plan to Fulton includes lock and dam 6 at river mile 250.0 with a pool elevation of 175 feet, NGVD, lock and dam 7 at river mile 287.0 with a pool elevation of 196.0 feet, NGVD, and lock and dam 8 at river mile 314.0 with a pool elevation of 222 feet, NGVD. 

Plan D - The Two Lock and Dam Plan to Fulton

For the two lock plan to Fulton, pool 6 would have an elevation of 185 feet, NGVD, with a vertical lift of 40 feet. Pool 7 for this option would be located at river mile 298.0 with a pool elevation of 222 feet, NGVD, with a vertical lift of 37 feet. This plan would provide 9-foot navigation to the vicinity of Fulton, Arkansas, located on Interstate 30.

Plan E - The Three Lock and Dam Plan to Index  

Pool 6 would have an elevation of 179 feet, NGVD. Lock and Dam 7 would be located at river mile 292.0 with a pool elevation of 213 feet, NGVD. Lock and Dam 8 would be located at river mile 333.5 and have a pool elevation of 247 feet, NGVD. Each lock would have a vertical lift of approximately 34 feet.

For the Corps to recommend any project for implementation, the project must be economically justified. Benefits attributed to the project must exceed project costs resulting in a positive benefit -to-cost ratio. 

  We have not determined at this point whether any of these plans are economically feasible. In the next year many of the questions regarding economic feasibility will be answered.


Yazoo Basin River Projects

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The Yazoo Basin River Projects consists of: the Big Sunflower River Basin, Upper Steele Bayou; Upper Steele Bayou reformulation; Upper Yazoo Projects; Yazoo Backwater Reformulation; and Yazoo Basin, Tributaries Reformulation..

Waterway in the Yazoo Basin Project Area The purpose of the various studies within the Yazoo Basin River area is to evaluate flooding characteristics of specific areas within the Yazoo Basin flood plain to determine which may be modified by construction to ameliorate high water flow and thus improve flood protection.

 The Vicksburg District is committed to working with all interested parties, stakeholders, and the non-Federal sponsors, the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Levee District and the Mississippi Levee District to determine feasible solutions and alleviate flooding.

The Yazoo River Basin encompasses the delta area extending north from Vicksburg to north of Clarksdale and east from the Mississippi River to the hills east of Greenwood.  The Basin area consist of roughly 8,900 square miles including all or parts of 12 counties in Mississippi with an approximate length of 175 miles and an approximate width of 40 miles.

Originally the Flood Control and Protection Act of 1928 authorized the comprehensive Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Project. Later, MR&T Projects were authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1936.

 Subsequently, Flood Control Acts of 1937, 1938, 1941, 1944, 1946, 1950, 1962, 1965 and Water Resources Development Acts of 1974, 1986 and 1996 continue authorization within the Yazoo River Basin. 

Before construction of the projects within Yazoo River Basin, which encompassed approximately 8,900 square miles, about 1.1 million acres were subject to a 100-year flooding, and damages annually totaled more than $18.6 M, including $3M in urban damages and 700,000 acres of agricultural land subject to inundation.

The authorization legislation resulted from efforts by all interested parties, stakeholders, and the non-Federal sponsors, the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Levee District and the Mississippi Levee District and has provided significant benefits including improved water quality and reduced flooding.

The projects in the Yazoo Basin consist of projects within the: Big Sunflower River Basin; Upper Steele Bayou; Yazoo Backwater; Upper Yazoo Projects; and Yazoo Backwater Tributaries Reformulation. 

Big Sunflower River Basin – The Big Sunflower River Watershed is part of the Yazoo River Basin in northwest Mississippi and comprises an area of approximately 4,200 square miles in northwest Mississippi.

 Remaining work to be completed includes completion of the Steele Bayou channel within the boundaries of the Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge, levees, dikes and water control structures on the refuge, construction of erosion and sediment reduction measures, and purchase and reforest mitigation lands.

A total of 5,250 acres of mitigation lands have been purchased. Funds in FY 2009 and 2010 were used to continue quality control inspection of Upper Steele Bayou Item 66 B, continued bank erosion repairs at selected sites in the Sunflower Basin, complete mitigation features and continued water quality reference indicators.

A multipurpose reconnaissance study is currently underway within the Big Sunflower River Basin on the Quiver River to address concerns including base flow sustainability, flooding, water quality, agricultural water supply and fish and wildlife habitat degradation.

Yazoo Basin Reformulation – The Yazoo Basin Reformulation study covers the remaining authorized unconstructed features of the Yazoo Basin to be accomplished in 4 phases. The final incomplete phase, the Yazoo Basin Tributaries Reformulation study, was resumed in 2009 and is currently underway with studies of the Tillatoba, Opossum, Cassidy, and Muddy Bayous.

Bank work along Item 6 on the Yazoo RiverThe Upper Yazoo Project (UYP) - UYP is a federally funded construction project that began in 1976 near Yazoo City and focuses on cleaning out and restoring channel capacity to the Yazoo River and its tributaries. The UYP is being constructed in sections which began below Greenwood and is moving upstream as each section is completed. As each downstream section is completed, the downstream channels will be able to handle maximum levels of discharge from hillside reservoirs, keeping the reservoirs from flooding. Funds in FY 2009 and 2010 are being used to complete Items 6B and 7A channel construction, design and award construction contracts on 7B, and 7C and purchase mitigation lands. Construction will continue through completion of Items 8 and 9 in subsequent years.

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The Yazoo River Basin encompasses the delta area extending north from Vicksburg to north of Clarksdale and east from the Mississippi River to the hills east of Greenwood.  The Basin area consist of roughly 8,900 square miles including all or parts of 12 counties in Mississippi with an approximate length of 175 miles and an approximate width of 40 miles.