NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It hasn't been done since 2011, but this weekend the Bonnet Carre Spillway will once again be opened. The Army Corps of Engineers announced they will open the Spillway Sunday morning in an effort to relieve pressure on levees in the New Orleans area.
While there are concerns about what that could do to Lake Pontchartrain, Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou said the impact will be less severe because of the timing.
Dufrechou, who is also a board member of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, downplays concerns of long-term water quality damage to the lake/
"If anything, the openings earlier in the year, as far as water quality, are probably less detrimental on Lake Pontchartrain," he said. "What we will see is the river is much more turbid than the lake, the lake's going to get brown as the river water fills up the lake."
The Mississippi River rose another 6 inches Thursday, bringing the level to 15 feet at the Carrollton Gage. As you might imagine, it wasn't smooth sailing for river pilots.
"When the river reaches 15 feet, it's one of the strongest forces of nature on the planet," said Shawn Gibbs with the Crescent River Pilots Association.
Dufrechou said public safety, of course, comes first, but he anticipates that Lake Pontchartrain could recover from the impact in just a few months.
"Again, the good thing for us right now is it's early in the year, the water temperatures are cold, the lake is going to be brown, all of the fin fish are going to be pushed to the east in the near term. But in the next couple of months, I would think we would see a return to the normal conditions," Dufrechou said. "If you are a sport recreational fisherman, if you stay right ahead of that dirty water line, that's where all the fish are going to be pushed, to the east, toward the Rigolets and Chef Pass."
The Corps said it will monitor water quality, natural resources and sedimentation in both the spillway and Lake Pontchartrain. It added that the spillway may be open for several weeks to relieve pressure on levees, maintain water levels and regulate the river's flow.