The Army Corp of Engineers says they will begin operating the Bonnet Carre Spillway following increasing water levels from heavy rains.
The increasing water levels, according to the Army Corp of Engineers, is a result of heavy rain in the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys.
The increase is prompting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to operate the Bonnet Carré Spillway to ensure the safe passage of the Mississippi River through the greater New Orleans area.
Operation of the structure will relieve pressure on mainline levees, maintain river stages, and regulate the flow downriver from the spillway, according to officials. The decision to open Bonnet Carré was issued by Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser commander of the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Opening procedures will start on Wednesday, February 27, 2019, when the river is expected to reach the operational trigger of 1.25 million cubic feet per second.
The public is allowed to view the spillway opening from the Project Office, located at 16302 River Road in Norco. Drones and other unmanned aerial systems are not permitted for flight during the opening.
Environmental, hydrologic, structural, and navigational considerations all bear on the decision to open Bonnet Carré. Other factors that affect the decision are the overall condition of the levees and the ability of the river to pass flows, and the effects high water and river currents may have on vessels navigating the river. The Corps says they have a detailed environmental monitoring plan in place that will assess water quality, dissolved oxygen, sedimentation, recreation, and natural resources such as the pallid sturgeon, both within the spillway as well as Lake Pontchartrain.
The Army Corps of Engineers says that all third-party users and grantees should take immediate steps to remove their movable property and protect existing facilities and immovable property within the spillway.
All public access areas within the spillway, including the public boat launches, Lower Guide Levee Road, and the St. Charles Parish Recreation Area near U.S. Highway 61 will be closed beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, until further notice.