The Mississippi River divides into two branches, the Atchafalaya and the Mississippi, near Natchez, Miss. The flow of water between the two is regulated to 70 percent (Mississippi) and 30 percent (Atchafalaya) by a massive complex called Old River Control. If the 70-30 split stands, the amount of river water reaching the bird’s foot delta will continue to decrease, and oil will reach more marshes more quickly. By slowly increasing the percentage of flow down the main stem of the Mississippi, the oil can be held offshore longer, giving response crews more time to deal with it before it poses a greater threat to wildlife and sensitive habitat.
"Long-term recovery for the Gulf Coast region depends on Mississippi River management," says Audubon coastal scientist G. Paul Kemp, Ph.D..
"We have an opportunity right now to put the river to work for us, and these principles and lessons must be a part of our long-term response as well. We can’t save the coast without the river.”