Spillway opening Friday to safeguard New Orleans levees

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NEW ORLEANS (AP/WJTV) – The Army Corps of Engineers says the Mississippi River is so high that a spillway west of New Orleans must be opened to safeguard New Orleans levees.

That will make an unprecedented third straight year and the fifth time this decade for opening the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

The Corps had said earlier that the opening might be needed, and the district commander announced Thursday that it will happen.

Col. Stephen Murphy says that if there aren’t any more big rains in the river’s vast watershed, the spillway will be open for about 30 days. He says that includes both a gradual opening and gradual closing. 

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson released a statement about the spillway opening:

I was extremely disappointed to indirectly hear about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Though eventually given the opportunity to ask a question through a window dressing meeting the morning of April 2, 2020, the decision to make the recommendation without input from Mississippi had basically already been made. During the meeting, I asked the Corps the following question:

“The MS Sound is still reeling from the three openings in the past two years, and these impacts still haven’t been adequately measured or considered, yet you’re about to make it even worse by again using the BCS this year. While you claim you do not have the authority, have you even requested a change in operating guidelines to help diminish those impacts by at least allowing a partial opening of the Morganza?” The Corps did not address my concerns and stated it could only give a limited response due to pending litigation.

Opening the spillway for an unprecedented three years in a row will severely impact the economy and the ecology of the Coast, and will undoubtedly create more devastation for surrounding communities. This is completely unacceptable. I am asking the Corps to immediately reconsider its decision and to stop any further action until Mississippi has a seat at the table.

Michael Watson, Secretary of State (R-Mississippi)

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