MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - One billion gallons of water flow down the Mississippi River every day. The Army Corps of Engineers in the Memphis District are preparing to lay concrete mats along the Mississippi River in the Mid-South.
Engineers have been “mat sinking” since the 1920’s. It’s an important process that helps maintain the flow of the Mississippi River and helps to keep it from eroding river banks.
The concrete mats are 100 square feet in size, can go to a depth of 90 feet under the water, and can extend outwards of 300 feet. Over the course of the summer, 800 acres of concrete will be placed along the Mississippi banks from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans.
Zach Cook, River Engineer, says, “These squares are tied together by stainless steel wire and it helps to hold the mat together like a piece of carpet. So, the carpet is draped along the slope of the river bank to form a protective layer.”
Soil from river banks is damaged by several things in a given year. Wake from tow boats, combined with the flow of water and erosive soil, can end up damaging river banks. Without protection, the Mighty Mississippi could carve out a new course. Engineers take surveys along the river in every district to determine the weak areas.
“The Mississippi River is a natural river, but our job is to help guide it along its course,” says Cook. “If we didn't do these things then the river would be on its own and able to do whatever it so desires.”
Army Corps of Engineers from the Memphis District will be laying concrete mats along the river in Tunica, Mississippi in about 3 weeks.