BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The closing of the Bonnet Carre Spillway won’t begin for at least a week, according to the latest information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans.
The Corps needs the Mississippi River level at the spillway to drop to 21 feet before it can start the closing process. As of Monday afternoon, the river level stood at 21.3 feet and isn’t expected to fall to 21 feet until sometime between July 15th through the 18th.
"The forecast changes every day,” said Ricky Boyett with the USACE public affairs office. “If I’ve learned anything this river season, the only forecast that matters is the one you have today.”
Right now, 184 of the spillways 350 bays are open, allowing trillions of gallons of freshwater from the Mississippi River to flow through Lake Pontchartrain and then into the Mississippi Sound. All of that river water has led to a drop in salinity in the Sound and the algae bloom that has resulted in water contact advisories across the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Once the river level drops, Boyett says closing the bays of the Bonnet Carre will take several days. The bays are closed “one needle at a time” Boyett said, referring to the 20 huge timbers that must be lowered by a crane into the water at each bay. Each one has to be precisely put in place to close the bay at a time.
Depending on weather conditions it will take four to five days to close all of the open spillway bays.