Rhythms of spillway return - for now

Rhythms of spillway return - for now

NORCO, LA (WVUE) - Repairs are underway on roads and bridges torn up by the river water that poured in for the spillway opening, and fishermen were back out Wednesday looking for endangered species.

It's been two weeks since the control gates of the spillway were closed, shutting off thousands of gallons of river water, and since that closure, you might say the spillway has gone to the dogs. Andy Fontenot has 22 hunting dogs that he brought down from Washington state.

"We delayed our trip for three weeks, and then we came down," said Fontenot.

Also back in the spillway are backhoes used to scoop up tons of sand used by many of us to fill our lawns after they subside.

"I notice a lot of sand, and it's wiped out a lot of roads," said Fontenot.

Those roads are now being repaired, as the rhythms of a closed spillway slowly return, but except for a few logs still clogging bays, the control structure itself is solid.

"We don't have any scour behind the structure itself," said Chris Brantley with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Last week, fishermen were having the time of their lives. Now, the fish are largely gone, and environmentalists with the Corps come up empty once again in their search for endangered pallid sturgeon.

"We're gonna call it off today, for the rest of the week," said Brantley.

Corps officials believe the rare sturgeon never entered into the spillway due to the early opening.

"We're thinking the water may be too cold. They may still be in the bottom of the river," said Brantley.

For now, the Corps is monitoring invasive silver carp.

"These are some fin clips that will be used for reference to match the DNA," said Brantley.

As they take DNA samples to help track carp movement into Lake Pontchartrain, the trainers will continue to put dogs through their paces.
But at this point it's not clear how long that training may continue.

The dog trainers are safe for now, but Corps officials are preparing the spillway for another possible opening. They know the river will rise again this spring, but at this point they're not sure if the control structure will have to be reopened, to ease the flow.

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