Fifty Bays Open At Bonnet Carré

With the New Orleans Engineer District continuing to open bays at the Bonnet Carré Spillway, the Carrollton Gage in New Orleans was holding steady at just over 16.5 feet April 9. As of that day, the Corps had opened 50 of the spillway’s 350 bays for a total discharge of 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs.).

The Bonnet Carré Spillway is located about 33 miles upriver from New Orleans. As the southernmost flood control structure on the Lower Mississippi, the Bonnet Carré is designed and operated to prevent the river from exceeding a flow of 1.25 million cfs. past New Orleans, a flow rate that typically corresponds to 17 feet at the Carrollton Gage.

The Corps began a slow opening at the spillway on April 3. At that time, Corps officials said they anticipated up to a month-long operation for the spillway. This is the fourth time in three years the Corps has opened the Bonnet Carré, which diverts water from the river to Lake Pontchartrain and on to the Gulf of Mexico.

As of April 9, the National Weather Service forecast the Mississippi River at New Orleans to hover near 17 feet until about April 17, when it would start a slow fall through the end of the month.

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The spillway is part of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project, which was designed, built and implemented after the Great Flood of 1927. Twenty creosote timbers seal each bay of the structure, keeping the river separate from the spillway.