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Feb 14, 2012 11:09 PM by Shawn Kline

Keeping saltwater out of the Mermentau Basin

Louisiana's Department of Agriculture and Forestry is thinking up ways to reduce saltwater intrusion in the Mermentau Basin.
One idea is to keep higher levels of fresh water.

After days of rain, the Mermentau Basin is a whole foot above average. That's "bad news" for Ronald Winch, watching his real estate go under water in Pecan Island.

"The lower Mermentau Basin is taking some flooding issues right now just with that one-foot of water difference," Winch said.

On the other hand, rising water is "good news" for farmers.
Why? The answer is in the Gulf.

Storms have taken a toll on the Mermentau Basin, allowing saltwater to seep in when fresh water levels are low.

"It was a closed fresh water system." LA Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain says, "now we have it where saltwater is coming in."

...And saltwater is "bad news" for farmers.

It's up to Commissioner Strain and the Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry to find a plan to keep everyone happy.

"We're talking about how we can better manage the water that we have," he said.

Better water management would not just help farmers but people like Winch, closely watching the water rise.
More meetings are scheduled in Crowley to finalize the plan involving coordination between locks and control structures to keep saltwater out of the basin. First, Strain says, the basin needs to be sealed from the Gulf.



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