District announces operation of Muddy Bayou and Steele Bayou gates

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District announced the gates of the Muddy Bayou Control Structure were opened on March 5. The District also announced the gates of the Steele Bayou Control Structure were closed on March 15.

The Muddy Bayou Control Structure’s gates were opened to fill Eagle Lake to its summer pool.

At the beginning of March, Eagle Lake remained at the winter pool elevation of 75 feet due to the lack of rainfall in the basin. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries requested that Eagle Lake be filled closer to the summer pool elevation of 76.9 feet.

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The Muddy Bayou gates were opened on March 5 and closed on March 22 as Eagle Lake had reached 76.5 feet.

Raising the lake to 76.5 feet would leave capacity for normal rainfall through the end of March and into April while Steele Bayou’s level remains higher than the lake level.

The Muddy Bayou Control Structure regulates water flowing into or out of Eagle Lake through Muddy Bayou, a tributary of Steele Bayou. The drainage structure, which was constructed as a fish and wildlife mitigation feature of the Yazoo Backwater Project, is used by USACE during periods of high water in the Yazoo River Basin to reduce the risk of damage to the Muddy Bayou Control Structure and to prevent scour or further damage to roads and homes surrounding the lake.

Due to above-average rainfall in the upper Mississippi River tributaries, the Mississippi River at Vicksburg rose high enough to force the closure of the Steele Bayou Control Structure’s gates to prevent backwater flooding on March 15.

The structure’s gates are closed when elevations on the Mississippi River rise above the elevation of water in the interior Yazoo Backwater area.

Based on current Mississippi River forecasts, the Steele Bayou Control Structure’s gates could re-open by mid-April. At that time, the Yazoo Backwater Area could reach an elevation of 90 to 91 feet due to current rainfall forecasts in the Yazoo Backwater drainage basin. If above-average rainfall persists within the Mississippi River Basin and increases stages around Vicksburg, the Steele Bayou Control Structure’s gates could remain closed longer.

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

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