Levees and the Making of a Dysfunctional Floodplain

Chapter
Part of the Estuaries of the World book series (EOTW)

Abstract

Europeans colonists in Louisiana sought to detach their urban settlements from the invasive floodwaters of the Mississippi River. Early economic success of the French colony relied on cypress and rice – commodities that were reliant on annual inundations and wetland conditions – and thus regular flooding was beneficial across much of the landscape. With the turn toward sugar as the primary staple crop in the late eighteenth century, public policy and infrastructure investments fortified the levee system to reduce the risk of regular floods. With federal investment in the levee system in the late nineteenth century, structures increasingly severed the river from the floodplain wetlands. Even though a state scientist pointed out the value of interaction between the river and the floodplain, structural flood protection remained the dominant policy consideration through the twentieth century. Efforts are now underway to build sediment diversions to reactivate the connections between the river and the delta and will force those engaged in natural resource based to adapt to changing conditions.

Keywords

Levees Floodplain Mississippi River Louisiana 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and AnthropologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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