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Army Corps to open Bonnet Carre Spillway

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Posted at 4:35 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 17:35:05-04

On Friday April 3, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers will open the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

The Army Corps says that heavy rain in the Mississippi Valley and rising Mississippi River water stages and flow are prompting the opening. It will be done to keep the volume of Mississippi River flows at New Orleans from exceeding 1.25 million cubic feet per second (cfs).

In accordance with the state and federal guidelines in response to COVID-19 this event will not be open to the public.

Officials say that current forecasts project an operation of three to four weeks, however duration of the opening will be dictated by actual conditions. Operation of the structure will relieve pressure on main line levees, maintain river stages, and regulate the flow downriver from the spillway.

Major General Mark Toy, Commanding General of the Mississippi Valley Division, made the decision on Thursday to open Bonnet Carré.

"In the Mississippi Valley Division, our priority is taking care of people," said Maj. Gen. Toy. "When we operate the spillway, we do everything we can to help mitigate the impacts. And, the decision to do so is not taken lightly. By operating the Bonnet Carré Spillway, we can safely pass these high waters and ultimately keep people safe."

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 an 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.