flood-control – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Tag Archives: flood-control

IHNC Lake Borgne Surge Barrier

[The site of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, at the intersection of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet; more detail on this Army Corps of Engineers project map.] [Building a bigger wall: the Surge Barrier was the largest design-build project in the history of the Army […]

outfall canals

[Lafitte Outfall Canal, one of the three massive concrete slits that drains New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain in severe rainfall.] [Orleans Canal] [The London Avenue Canal; photograph at I-10 crossing.] [Photographs of New Orleans’ outfall canals, by reader Ramiro Diaz (and supplemented with Google Maps imagery).  Diaz works with Waggonner Ball Architects, a New Orleans-based […]

casting fields

[Map of revetments under the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Team New Orleans, on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers; image produced by mammoth using data from the Army Corps.] I’ve already talked a fair about the idea that the Mississippi River is, at this point in its history, an artificially-constructed system that should […]

blowing the fuse

[Detonation at the Birds Point inflow crevasse, during the night of 2 May 2011.] As sand boils appeared in Cairo, the swollen rivers continued to rise.  The city was under mandatory evacuation orders, and the flood gauge was expected to reach 63 feet — not high enough to over-top the city’s levees, but high enough […]

ditch 6

[The “Ditch 6” levee at Hamburg, Iowa; photographed by the Army Corps of Engineers on June 16.  Following the breach of levee 575 which prompted the evacuation orders for southern Hamburg, the Army Corps “immediately underwent further construction to raise the elevation of Ditch 6 levee”; the plastic sheeting protects the soft earth of the […]

six dams and six reservoirs

[Fort Peck Lake (top), Spillway (middle) and Dam (above), in northeast Montana; built between 1933 and 1940, Fort Peck is the world’s largest “hydraulically-filled” dam, which means that it was constructed by dredging suspended sediment from borrow pits and pumping it to discharge pipes at the dam site, where it settles onto the embankment.  (This […]

project design flood

[The “project design flood” is the maximum flood that the Army Corps of Engineers has engineered the Mississippi River’s flood control structures to accommodate; the image here (via America’s Wetland and Loyola University) shows those flows in cubic feet per second. I’ve been slow to link (though, as promised, the flood blogging is going to pick […]

unusual flood typologies iii: devils lake

[Top, Devils Lake, North Dakota — a glacial lakebed which has been slowly rising since 1992: “Unlike with a river flood, this water does not naturally recede after a week or a month. It has nowhere to go: The lakebed is the result of a glacier that melted roughly 10,000 years ago, and its only […]

artificial crevasse

[Before the 1928 Flood Control Act, the Mississippi River flood control plan consisted of two basic elements: levees and outlets.  Earthern levees would hold the water back.  When necessary, outlets would be utilized to divert flood waters.  In an emergency, more levees could be created with sandbags; more outlets could be created by blowing levees […]

the mississippi river flood of 1927

[Map prepared by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (the fore-runner of today’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in 1927, after the Great Mississippi Flood of that year.  The map shows “flooded areas and the field of operations”.  The great devastation produced by the 1927 flood — it flooded an area approximately equal to the […]

unusual flood typologies i: dam failure

[Friant Dam, on the upper San Joaquin in California, filled to the top in spring of 2006.  Though the dam held, downstream flooding ensued.  When a dam does fail, as the Teton Dam did in 1976 or the Toccoa Creek Dam did in 1977, the flash-flooding that occurs can be deadly, resulting in relatively high […]

“waiting for the chute to open and the bull to come out bucking”

[Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Green River in Utah; the reservoir’s primary dam is highlighted in red.  In anticipation of record summer floods, the reservoir’s waters are “being released as fast as [they] can flow”, making space in the reservoir to hold snowmelt.  Downstream, rafters are finding that typical rafting trips of two-and-a-half hours are […]


The next week or two will be dedicated to floods. This may be entirely obvious, but I think it is worth beginning by noting that floods are not good, and floods are not fun.  We’re not talking about floods because we enjoy flooding.  Floods are, however, a constant — as we are reminded by the […]

readings: cars, ships, and nuclear reactors

[all photographs from Andrea Frank’s series “Ports and Ships”] 1. Dave Roberts reviews two books on the future of automotive transportation — Traffic and Reinventing the Automobile — in the American Prospect, primarily discussing “USVs”, the descendant of MIT’s CityCar.  Roberts’ review explains why mammoth is so excited about CityCar as an architectural tool: Where […]

climate defense systems

An article from Sunday’s Washington Post discusses the development of “climate defense systems”, resulting from an increasing interest in not just climate change prevention, but also climate change adaptation.  The article is particularly focused on the Netherlands, where “the Dutch are spending billions of euros on ‘floating communities’ that can rise with surging flood waters, […]

the new dutch water defense line

There’s nothing particularly original about the observation that the Dutch have a peculiar national relationship to their landscape (and, in particular, its hydrology), but that peculiarity produces endlessly fascinating oddities and, apparently, endless mammoth posts on Dutch hydrology.  As lewism noted on one such post, Bulwarks and Flux: …the whole of Dutch landscape and history […]

readings: on water

1. Good Magazine’s Water Issue discusses clean water technologies for the developing world, the current and historical contamination of American tap water, fully recycled tap water, how the control of water is becoming central to the conflict between India and Pakistan and interviews Robert Glennon, author of the new book Unquenchable, which explores America’s water […]

its prettiness and romance will then be gone

As long as I’m on the subject of urban parks that serve as components of flood management systems, I ought to mention the recent Buffalo Bayou Promenade in Houston, which is not only an admirable and forward-thinking project from a city not known for its innovative ecological design (though they have built a rather seductive […]

elementary school hydrological investigations

While researching the history of the Buffalo Bayou for a forthcoming post, I came across this fascinating series of lesson plans prepared by a Houston elementary school teacher, which would introduce students to the history of flooding, emphasize the dual value and danger of waterways to cities, teach the children to access and utilize real-time […]

bulwarks and flux

Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, returning from a tour of the Netherlands’ coastal armaments, says America needs to “rethink its entire approach to low-lying coastal areas and adopt an integrated model of water management like that of the Netherlands.” Here at mammoth, we (of course) think that this is a fantastic idea, and not only because […]