The Army Corps of Engineers will open the Bonnet Carré Spillway on Thursday to prevent river flooding near New Orleans.
The Mississippi River is rising, as floodwater from the Midwest makes its way south.
The Bonnet Carré Spillway is basically a giant release valve for the Mississippi. It keeps New Orleans from flooding by diverting water from the river into Lake Pontchartrain. It was last opened in January 2016. Army Corps Col. Mike Clancy says the Corps usually opens it when the river reaches 17 feet at the Carrollton gauge in New Orleans.
“Any higher than that,” Clancy said, “it’s just a tremendous amount of pressure on the levees. They’re just not designed to take much more water than that.”
The Corps expects to keep the spillway open for about three weeks. They do not, however, expect to open the Morganza Spillway, which is north of Baton Rouge.
The Corps has also activated Phase II of their “flood fight” procedures. They’ll inspect the levees daily, looking for leaks and other problems.
The Corps will open the Spillway at 10 a.m. Thursday, and residents are welcome to watch from the levee.
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