Hello from the Department of Natural Resources Atchafalaya Basin Program!
Good news! The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the decision of the lower court on a lawsuit against The Atchafalaya Basin Program. The court determined that, "The jury verdict and the district court judgment rendered against the State of Louisiana, through the Department of Natural Resources, and in favor of Dan S. Collins and Dan S. Collins, CPL and Associates, Inc., is reversed, and judgment is granted in favor of DNR and against Dan S. Collins and Dan S. Collins, CPL and Associates, Inc.,dismissing the case... Costs of this appeal are assessed against Dan S.Collins and Dan S. Collins, CPL and Associates, Inc."
A March 1, 2017 article in the Baton Rouge Business Report revisited longstanding complaints about the Bayou Postillion dredging project that was completed in 2005. The article reiterated false claims repeatedly made about the project, its purpose, and the Atchafalaya Basin Program. Following is a quick list of some of the key misconceptions that have been disseminated over time, and that have been raised again in the most recent article.
1.) Contrary to claims made, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not dredge Bayou Postillion. While the Corps did issue a permit associated with the State's dredging project, the Corps did not carry out the dredging. The project was carried out by the State for the purpose of increasing water flow through Bayou Postillion to help improve water quality there and in the adjacent swamp.
2.) As recognized in the article, for years Bayou Postillion, like much of the Atchafalaya Basin, has been "accreting," or filling in with silt. By 2003, the Bayou was nearly 100 percent filled in, less than 5 feet wide in some areas. Without action, the Bayou would have disappeared. As a result, the State and its citizens would have lost the right to use the Bayou at all, along with all its mineral rights under the Bayou, to the adjacent landowners. The purpose of the project was to prevent this from happening and to preserve the adjacent swamps and ecosystems by maintaining the flow of water in the Bayou. As shown by the approvals for the project, it was appropriately designed to achieve this purpose.
The project was successful. After its completion in 2005, Bayou Postillion still maintains a width of approximately 75 feet to 200 feet. Under the land rights agreements for the project, the public is now guaranteed the right to use the entire width of the Bayou from bank to bank. And the State is now guaranteed mineral rights under the Bayou, ranging from 25 feet to 200 feet, regardless of whether there is more accretion in the future. Local sport and commercial fishermen who use the bayou for access and fishing are pleased with the results of the project.
3.) Though permit and environmental violations associated with the project have been alleged, neither the courts nor State and federal regulatory agencies with jurisdiction in the area have found any merit to those allegations to date.
4.) The wells in question were not "in the exact location where the bayou had been dredged," as claimed. The closest of the seven wells noted in the article was a half-mile away from the dredging. And the well operators used Old River for access, not Bayou Postillion, as noted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit pertaining to dredging of Old River associated with the drilling projects. Simply put, there was no oil and gas activity in relation to Bayou Postillion.
5.) None of the drilling units associated with the wells include any portion of the area involved in the Bayou Postillion dredging project ("drilling units" establish which mineral rights owners are entitled to share in production revenue from a well). This means that the State neither lost nor gained oil and gas revenue from those wells as a result of the project or any agreements associated with it.
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Checking the water:
The information below is obtained from the USGS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and has been compiled by DNR into this format to allow a quick look at information pertinent to the Atchafalaya Basin. Current Atchafalaya Basin water levels from NOAA.
Data is for 5/1/2017
ALL STAGE FORECASTS INCLUDE 24 HOURS OF FUTURE RAINFALL.
Ohio River at Cairo
Location: Southernmost gauge on the Ohio River in Illinois Reading significance - used to forecast rises on the Mississippi. Lag time, 4 to 6 days.
Flood Stage: 40'
24 hour change: +2.0'
Forecast: expect to CREST at 51.0' on 5/6
Mississippi River, just south of ORCS, at Red River Landing
Reading: Mississippi River south of ORCS, after the diversion into the Atchafalaya
Flood Stage: 48'
24 hour change: +0.4'
Forecast: expect to CREST at 54.5' on 5/18
Mississippi River at Baton Rouge
Flood Stage: 35'
24 hour change: +0.2'
Forecast: expect to CREST at 37.5' on 5/18
Mississippi River at New Orleans
Flood Stage: 17'
24 hour change: +0.3'
Forecast: expect to CREST at 14.5' on 5/18
Atchafalaya River at Simmesport
Flood Stage: 47'
Forecast: expect to RISE to 26.6' by 5/5
Atchafalaya River at Melville
Flood Stage: 34'
Forecast: expect to RISE to 20.8' by 5/5
Atchafalaya River at Krotz Springs
Flood Stage: 29'
Forecast: expect to RISE to 19.1' by 5/5
Atchafalaya River above Butte La Rose
Flood Stage: 20'
Forecast: expect to RISE to 14.5' by 5/5
Atchafalaya River at Bayou Sorrell Locks on the GIWW
Flood Stage: 12'
Forecast: expect to RISE to 8.6' by 5/6
Atchafalaya at Millet (Myette) Point
Flood Stage: 15'
Forecast: expect to RISE to 9.0' by 5/6
Atchafalaya River at Morgan City
Flood Stage: 6'
Forecast: expect to RISE to 5.3' by 5/6
Murphy Lake near Bayou Sorrel
Lower Grand River at Bayou Sorrel
Middle Fork, Bayou Long
Arm of Grand Lake near Crook Chene Cove
Pontoon Bridge at Butte Larose
Lake Pelba at I-10, Henderson
Little Alabama Bayou at Sherbourne
Work Canal near I-10
Bayou La Rompe at Lake Long
Keelboat Pass below Lake Chicot