Photos Show a Dried-Up Henderson Lake Under the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge
Here's a sight you don't see every day - the Atchafalaya Basin without much water.
Debbie Hester posted several photos from her trip across Henderson Lake on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge this week showing the dried-up swamp, and it is a sight to see.
Why is this part of the basin so low? Believe it or not, it's not because of a lack of rain.
You are right, though - there hasn't been much rain over the past few weeks, but that's not what is causing Henderson Lake to be so dry.
From time to time, portions of the Atchafalaya Basin are drained to minimize the amount of vegetation that grows there.
If the aquatic vegetation is not controlled, it can create issues for fish in the Atchafalaya Basin, creating a strain on the basin's ecosystem, and could even lead to fish kills if left unregulated.
Some vegetation is good for the fish, but too much of the floating vegetation can cause issues.
I find it fascinating to see Henderson Lake dried up like this, but it is done every so often to keep the vegetation in check.
The gates to drain the lake were opened in August and, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, they are scheduled to remain open until November 1.
Water is still coming into Lake Henderson from control structures upstream, but that water is just flowing through the deeper channels and is not able to pool because of the open control structures downstream.
One question that many people ask is this: won't the lack of water affect the health of the fish? The answer: yes, and no.
For the most part, the fish will continuously move toward deeper water (or, at least, water that isn't too shallow) while the basin is drained. They will remain in the deeper areas until levels rise again.
Sometimes the fish may head to an area that becomes a pond, unable to get to deeper water. In these instances, it is possible that some fish will die due to a lack of oxygen or extreme temperatures in the shallow areas.
A series of gates and control structures are what the US Army Corps of Engineers uses to adjust the levels in the Atchafalaya Basin. After enough time has passed for the aquatic vegetation to have dried up, gates upstream will be opened and, again, Henderson Lake will return to its Sportsman's Paradise glory.