Corps keeps an eye on fast-flowing, rising river; may reopen spillway

Corps keeps an eye on fast-flowing, rising river; may reopen spillway

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Mississippi River is rising, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers said it will continue to do so.

“It’s been extraordinary since the winter time. The eastern part of the United States, it’s one of the wettest period on record,” said Heath Jones, chief emergency manager.

Since February, the Corps and its partners have been doing daily inspections of the levee system.

“As currently forecasted, the rise is anticipated to exceed 1.25 cubic feet per second in the coming days,” said Maj. Jordon Davis. “Based on these projections, the New Orleans division will once again recommend operation on the Bonnet Carre Spillway.”

If the Corps does open the spillway, it will be the first time in history that it has been operated twice in a year.

Jones said the main contributors to the high river is rain from the Ohio and Kentucky Valley.

“The river outside drains 41 percent of the country. If it’s raining anywhere in that part, it ends up in our district,” Jones said.

Corps officials try and limit openings to minimize the impact of freshwater entering the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.

Corps spokesperson Rickey Boyett said they are working closely with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the reports of dolphin deaths in St. Bernard Parish.

“[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] are looking at the data trying to determine how many as well as the cause of the incidents we are seeing,” said Boyett. “We’ll continue to look for their data and evaluate that once it’s available.”

During the daily inspections, the Corps found two high priority points out of the more than 260 active sites. But Jones said the levee system is still strong.

“Even with those two points, it’s sound. I mean, we’ve been at this, like Major Davis said, seven months right back to November, we’ve had water over 11 and up to about 15 up to three months now,” said Jones.

The Corps expects to pass the record days of flood fighting mode of 225 days.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.