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Morganza Spillway Will Likely Be Opened - For Just Third Time Ever

The Morganza Spillway has only been operated twice in its history: during the floods of 1973 and 2011.

Though the official decision will not be made until next week, the Army Corps of Engineers expects to open the Morganza Spillway as soon as June 2nd.

Located upriver from Baton Rouge, the Spillway has only been used twice before: during the floods of 1973 and 2011.


Whereas the Bonnet Carre Spillway relieves pressure on the Mississippi River by diverting excess water into Lake Pontchartrain, Morganza eventually empties into the Atchafalaya Basin.

There are no permanent residents in the Morganza floodway itself, but Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said there are about 25,000 acres of farmland at risk.

“The longer the water’s there, those particular crops cannot recover,” said Strain.

“So we do expect probably a total loss of all the crops that have been planted, and potentially a loss of the entire season.”

Officials also said they might sink a barge in Bayou Chene to prevent flood water from rising near Morgan City.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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