On May 28, 2019, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) issued Managers Bulletin: MGR-19-013, which addresses the planned operation of the Morganza Floodway in the Mississippi River Valley. The Morganza Floodway diverts water from the Mississippi River into the Morganza Floodway and Atchafalaya Basin. The Mississippi river will reach more than 62 feet at Red River Landing on June 5, 2019, so permission was sought to operate the Morganza Floodway to prevent flood control structures from overtopping, to minimize stress in leveed reaches and to preserve encroachment on freeboard downstream. The intent is a gradual opening to minimize the impacts on wildlife and limit elevations in the floodway by adding one foot of water per day for the first three days.
RMA states that scenarios presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows significant flooding to cropland regardless of the operation of the Morganza Floodway due to the severity of the flood event so any resulting crop losses are covered under the policy.
ANALYSIS – RMA is correct that in 2011 it covered crop damage caused by the release of water from the Morganza Spillway. In 2011, RMA obtained pictures of levees being topped and computer models run by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that showed the extent of flooding had the spillway not been opened and the extent of flooding with the opening of the spillway. Opening of the spillway resulted in fewer acres being flooded. Based on all the evidence RMA concluded that the crop losses due to flooding as a result of opening the Morganza Spillway were covered. It appears that similar evidence has been provided in 2019. However, RMA refers to the Morganza Spillway and Morganza Floodway in the bulletin and it is unclear whether these are the same.
All statements made are opinions of the author and are not intended to provide legal opinions or legal advice.