With river rising quickly, Corps may soon open Bonnet Carre Spillway

With river rising quickly, Corps may soon open Bonnet Carre Spillway
Bonnet Carre Spillway

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may have to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway soon. The Mississippi River is already high, and it's expected to rise another 4 feet by March 13.

River levels at the Carrollton gage read 13.1 feet Friday. The Corps says this time of year that gage is usually below 10 feet.

"We entered a phase one flood fight on Monday, and this upcoming Monday we're expected to move into phase two flood fight. The river should pass 15 feet on the Carrollton Gage here, and that means our inspectors will be out every day riding the levees looking for any issues," said Matt Roe with the Corps.

The river is expected to crest March 13 at 17 feet. That would put it near the trigger point of when the Corps opens the spillway. That relief helps prevent flooding downstream. The Corps says levels this year are a bit unusual because it's been such a fast rise. That's blamed on all of the rain in the Ohio River Valley, as well as in Arkansas and Tennessee.

"Forty-one percent of the continental United States drains down in the Mississippi River, and all of that passes here in New Orleans," said Roe. "It's kind of unusual this year because it's such a fast rise, having gone into phase one at 11 feet here on the gage on Monday, then the following Monday being 15 feet on the gage is a little bit unusual."

Fishing was good Friday at the foot of the spillway, and the possibility of an opening means it will only get better for some.

"The water comes up so the fish come in out of the spillway and eat all the stuff up here in the grass and everything, and we just get way better fish," said fisherman Randy Kenyon.

The Corps says they've started their pre-operational procedures for a possible spillway opening, but a decision has not been made yet. That could come as soon as Monday.

Once the river does crest, this is what you can expect: "It will have a crest for a few days according to this morning's forecast, and then it will have a slower fall over the following days," said Roe.

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