NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Bonnet Carre Spillway will be opened Wednesday.
Built after the great 1927 flood, the Bonnet Carre has operated 13 times since 1937. This is the first time in history the spillway has been opened in back-to-back years.
A large volume of fresh, nutrient rich fresh water pouring through the spillway into Lake Pontchartrain frequently shocks the system, resulting in algae blooms and temporary dead zones in the lake.
However, the dramatic sight of thousands of cubic feet per second pouring through the spillway bays frequently draws huge crowds to witness the opening.
The Army Corps of Engineers says they plan to open 30 bays Wednesday morning out of about 350. The corps say they could open approximately 200 of the bays.
Each bay measures 20 feet in length.
“Half of the city of New Orleans is below sea level so you can just picture that horrendous flooding that would happen were it not for the Mississippi River levees and then the floodways and spillways designed to take water off of the river," said Michael Clancy, New Orleans District Commander for The Corps of Engineers.
Experts say they expect river levels to crest at about 17 feet, which is the flood stage, by mid-March.
Opening the spillway will help the river flow through the area so it doesn’t get backed up.