(WVUE) - Engineers at the U.S. Army Corps have nicknamed America's largest watershed, the massive area that drains into the Mississippi River, "the plumbing."
This week, the Corps began operating the Bonnet Carre Spillway 32 miles upriver from New Orleans to relieve pressure on levees down river and lessen the threat of flooding to metro New Orleans.
The Mississippi River drains all or parts of 31 states and two Canadian province, the largest drainage basin in North America at nearly one-and-a-quarter million square miles.
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio created an animation depicting the rivers of the entire watershed, starting with points farthest from the Gulf of Mexico and revealing streams and rivers in a progression toward the mouth of the Mississippi.
NASA based its work on a U.S. Geological Survey data base, following the direction of the stream flows and tracing the path of every significant waterway toward the mighty Mississippi.