Will Alligator Bayou Run Dry?

POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2009 - 6:55pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

It’s a local fixture and a big draw for tourism, but as our Lauren Unger explains some worry a drainage dispute could threaten Alligator Bayou.

For owner Frank Bonifay, Alligator Bayou is more than just a business, “This is our treasure.” They use the space to give tours, foster wildlife, and teach the younger generation. But some say some proposed drainage could threaten this area and the gators who live here.

Officials plan to open up the floodgate in the area as soon as the rain stops. They say those gates are artificially keeping the water levels too high, which could lead to flooding for the people who live in Iberville and Ascension. But Bonifay says there’s no immediate danger of flooding and opening the gates will leave the creatures who depend on the water high and dry. “If you kill the fish, you kill everything, the bald eagles, everything that eats that, and where will all the alligators go?”

Meanwhile, an environmental group, the Mississippi River Keeper, has also joined in the fight. They say the matter should be up to environmental scientists. Paul Orr says, “There needs to be a balance found and I think only qualified scientists can make that decision.” Many different views on one very important body of water.

Drainage experts in Ascension and Iberville say the open waterways shouldn’t completely dry up the bayou, just lower the water levels. In the meantime the Shaw Group is doing an environmental study to decide what would be the best solution for the bayou and the surrounding areas.