The U.S Army Corps of Engineers says that based on changes to current and forecasted weather condidtions, they have opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway.
That process began at around 2:00 p.m. This is the second time this year that the spillway had to be opened.
On May 9, the Corps recommended operating the Bonnet Carré Spillway to the Mississippi Valley Division Commanding General with a tentative date of May 14.
According to officials, regional rainfall caused the Mississippi River to rise 6 inches in the past 24 hours with more rain expected through the weekend. These rains could elevate the Mississippi River above 17 feet with a peak as high as 17.5 feet at the Carrollton Gage.
In an abundance of caution the operation date is being moved forward to ensure the safe passage of this high water by limiting the elevations downriver of the spillway.
The Corps says that operation of the structure will relieve pressure on main levees, maintain river stages, and regulate the flow downriver from the spillway. This will be the 14 operation of the structure since 1937 and the first time it has been opened twice during the same high water event.
The public is allowed to view the spillway opening from the Project Office, located at 16302 River Road in Norco, Louisiana. Drones and other unmanned aerial systems, are not permitted for flight during the opening.
The Army Corps of Engineers say that 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 has 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.