2019 mississippi river flood

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Army Corps of Engineers expects to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway Friday afternoon.

Located upriver from New Orleans, the Bonnet Carre Spillway acts as a release valve for the Mississippi River. When the water reaches a flow of 1.25 million cubic feet per second, the Corps opens the spillway to divert some of that water into Lake Pontchartrain.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Mississippi River has been at flood stage for months. Levees and spillways keep most homes and businesses safe and dry from the flood waters, but the high water still creates headaches for levee districts and industries like oil and gas, and fisheries.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO coastal reporter Travis Lux went to find out how the river creates problems we can’t always see. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland got the details.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Heavy rains in the Midwest have caused the Mississippi River to swell. To relieve pressure on local levees, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin operating the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Norco on Wednesday.

The levees near New Orleans are only built to handle water moving at 1.25 million cubic feet per second -- quick enough to fill the Superdome in about a minute, the Corps estimates. When the river gets going that fast the Corps opens the spillway, diverting some of that water into Lake Pontchartrain.

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