Mississippi River water levels once again have risen above 11 feet in New Orleans, prompting the state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to monitor levees from Baton Rouge south twice a week.
This “phase I” flood fight procedure also brings with it restrictions on certain types of work that can be done around the levees.
Any work that could affect the river levees, including hauling heavy loads over the levee or underground work within 1,500 feet of the levee, is not allowed once the river gauge in New Orleans reaches 11 feet and rising.
There are waivers considered on a case-by-case basis, and people should call the local levee district for more information or check www.rivergauges.com.
The expected rise in the river comes as a result of heavy rains in the Midwest and Ohio River Valley. The small bump in river levels is expected to pass with a possible second rise April 1 as more rain is expected this week.
On Monday morning, the river level in New Orleans was 11.7 feet, while Baton Rouge was at 30.3 feet — well below flood stage of 35 feet but high enough to trigger the more frequent levee inspections.
According to the Corps, the high water at the New Orleans river gauge is expected to reach its top height at 13 feet on Sunday, where it will stay for two or three days before falling. In Baton Rouge, the crest of water will get to 32 feet Saturday before levels are expected to go down again.
It’s not expected that either of the bumps in Mississippi River water levels in the next couple weeks will approach levels seen just more than a month ago when the Bonnet Carre Spillway near New Orleans needed to be opened.