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Bonnet Carré Spillway likely to reopen, Army Corps says

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NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV)— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the Mississippi River is expected to rise past the level that will trigger the unprecedented re-opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

Although the historic flood control structure was closed on April 11, the Mississippi River continues to rise in New Orleans due to flooding rains over the middle Mississippi River Valley.

The National Weather Service says the river is expected to make its third crest in 2019 on May 17 at 16.8 feet. The river is expected to remain high through the month of May.

“We are reviewing probable operation of the Bonnet Carré Spillway as this forecast indicates surpassing the trigger point,” A spokesperson for the corps tells Eyewitness News.

The agency has scheduled a news conference Thursday to discuss “probable” opening.

The Mississippi River has been in flood stage for 195 days and engineers along with the local levee districts are inspecting the systems daily. 

The Bonnet Carré Spillway is opened to relieve stress on New Orleans levees when the Mississippi River flows at 1.25 million cubic feet per second — enough to fill the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in less than two minutes. Last month the corps said the spillway has never been opened twice in one year.

The influx of fresh water into Lake Pontchartrain and surrounding waterways has impacted wildlife in southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi. Marine biologists say bodies of dead dolphins with freshwater lesions have been discovered at an alarming rate since the spillway was opened.

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