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Some businesses already affected by COVID-19 dread the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening

Giant structure could open this week to prevent flooding in New Orleans
Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 5:03 PM CDT
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New Orleans, La. (WVUE) - At Bayou Adventure in Lacombe, owner Shannon Bordelon worries about another potential opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

Bordelon described the news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could operate the spillway as early as Friday as “a punch in the gut."

The Corps could announce Thursday that it plans to open the Bonnet Carre for the fourth time in three years, diverting water from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain.

“I cannot go through this again,” Bordelon said.

Bayou Adventure, which depends heavily on a healthy lake, is a part convenience store and restaurant, part bait shop, and part kayak tour operator.

Coronavirus has already impacted the business, including limiting the restaurant to take out only.

Bordelon said they made the decision last week to stop kayak rentals out of safety concerns.

While the spillway is designed to prevent flooding in New Orleans and surrounding communities, dumping trillions of gallons of freshwater into the lake has damaged fisheries and prompted algae bloom in past years.

Political leaders in Mississippi have sued the Corps, arguing that it should use other flood-fighting measures such as the Morganza Spillway north of Baton Rouge.

Coronavirus has also hit the commercial fishing business with prices falling as restaurants and seafood processors around the country limit their operations.

“That downward slope of business is going to be extended by the perception that the Pontchartrain Basin has no fishing,” said charter boat captain C.T. Williams.

At Bayou Adventure, Borden hopes to make the best of things, including expanding their food truck business.

“It’s forced me to re-evaluate the business and pressured me to grow in ways that I wouldn’t have before," Bordelon said. “So, we’re trying to look at it as an opportunity.”

Bordelon said the final effects of the spillway opening will depend on how long the structure remains open.

The Corps has said it would phase in an operation of the spillway, limiting the number of bays opened each day, to pour as little water into the lake as possible.

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