Corps Begins Dredging Bayou Sorrel As Water Levels Slowly Return To Normal
After another weekend of rain, water continues to slowly drain southward from the area around Bayou Sorrel Lock on the Port Allen Alternate Route of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) in Louisiana. With more than 30 inches of rain falling in the area surrounding Bayou Sorrel in the past two months, the lock has been closed since May 17 due to high water.
As of June 8, the landside gage at Bayou Sorrel Lock read 7.35 feet, virtually unchanged in a week due to rain the weekend prior. For the lock to reopen to navigation, the landside water level at the lock has to drop below 6.9 feet.
Operators and residents in the area have blamed persistent flooding and slow rate of fall, in part, on sediment levels just below the lock and in the unnavigable east access channel that bypasses the lock. The Alternate Route leads from Port Allen Lock at the Mississippi River across from Baton Rouge southward, through Bayou Sorrel Lock, to Morgan City, where it connects with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
With Bayou Sorrel Lock closed, and as a result, the entire Alternate Route closed to navigation, tows heading east or west on the GIWW have been forced to use either Harvey Lock or Algiers Lock in New Orleans. As of June 8, the queue at Algiers was 36 vessels on turn, while Harvey registered 15.
And while mariners can look forward to Bayou Sorrel reopening sometime soon, barring further rain, they will have to keep watch for the dustpan dredge Jadwin, which the New Orleans Engineer District has announced will begin dredging below the lock beginning June 8 and continuing for about a month.
The Jadwin will work from the lock southward about 3 miles, including the bypass connection.
“The dredge will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the dredged material will be deposited along the bank of the navigable channel,” the Corps said in a navigation bulletin.
Mariners are asked to pass the dredge at their slowest safe speed. Points of contact with the New Orleans District, Vic Landry and Robert Swayze, may be reached at 504-862-2407 and 504-862-2060, respectively.