Army Corps of Engineers closes spillway after river recedes

May 1, 2020 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Mississippi River has receded enough to prompt Friday’s closure of the final bays of a spillway north of New Orleans.

The Bonnet Carre Spillway was opened April 3 after the river was at a high enough level to threaten New Orleans’ levees. The opening marked an unprecedented third straight year and the fifth time this decade that the spillway was open. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had said earlier that such an opening might be needed.

The Corps, in a news release, said on Friday they closed the last of the 90 bays that had been open “based on the reduced flows in the Mississippi River at Red River Landing.” And although the water levels are receding, the Corps said the river remains elevated.

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“Army Corps personnel will continue flood fight inspections alongside local levee districts and all levee and excavation restrictions remain in effect,” the agency said.

The spillway can divert part of the Mississippi River’s floodwaters through Lake Pontchartrain and into the Gulf of Mexico. That process allows high water to go around New Orleans and other nearby communities.