Army Corps to begin checking levees daily, Bonnet Carre announcement expected Wednesday

Army Corps to begin checking levees daily, Bonnet Carre announcement expected Wednesday
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
Morganza Spillway (Source: WAFB)
Morganza Spillway (Source: WAFB)
Bonne Carre Spillway (Source: WAFB)
Bonne Carre Spillway (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday they will begin daily inspections of the entire levee system as the state continues prepare for flooding.

"Since 2011, the Corps has made significant efforts, has done significant work on the system to address weak spots, to repair areas such as the system is as strong or stronger than it was in 2011," said Col. Rick Hansen, Commander of the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Our benchmark is no loss of life, no damages."

Back in 2011, the Corps opened both the Bonnet Carre and Morganza Spillway help prevent flooding from snowmelt further north on the Mississippi River.

As early as Wednesday, the Corps could make an announcement about whether to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway this year. The gates could be opened as soon as Saturday.

"Based on the current projections, we see the possible need to open all of the bays of the spillway to its designed capacity," Hansen said.

The Bonnet Carre has been opened 10 times in its history. If opened for an 11th time this January, it would be the earliest in the calendar year the gates were opened.

The Bonnet Carre dumps water into Lake Pontchartrain in order to keep the Mississippi River flowing at 1.25 million cubic feet per second in New Orleans. At that rate, water could fill the Superdome in just over 1.5 minutes.

Meanwhile upriver, the fate of the Morganza Spillway remains up in the air as officials continue to monitor the flow rate.

"The National Weather Service Forecast right now, looking out 10 days, it's getting very close to 1.5 million cubic feet per second. I say that it will be close either way," Hansen said.

The Morganza Spillway works to keep river levels steady in Baton Rouge.

Parish officials said Tuesday they are monitoring the situation and could deploy Tiger Dams if necessary. Tiger Dams are tubes filled with water that are placed along the levee, adding extra height to the levee wall.

Overall, Corps leaders said the Louisiana's system is ready and capable of handling the coming high waters.

"The crest that the National Weather Service are currently predicting for this event are close but are below the historic crests of 2011, so we're confident the system as it stands today can safely pass this water event," he said.

After Tuesday's press conference, Governor-elect John Bel Edwards met with the Army Corps to discuss flood prevention measures and plans.

The Corps will also hold three public meetings this week with stake holders in the Morganza Spillway decision. They are scheduled for the following locations and times:

  • Wednesday, January 6, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
    911 Communication Center 
    7011 Mitchell Lane 
    Morganza, LA 70759
  • Thursday, January 7, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. 
    728 Myrtle Street 
    Morgan City, LA 70380
  • Thursday, January 7, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
    Butte LaRose Fire Station 
    1715 Herman Dupuis Rd 
    Breaux Bridge, La.  70517

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