Bonnet Carre Spillway to open starting at 10 a.m. Sunday; there's a spot for public viewing, but not for drones _lowres

Photo provided by Billy Crews -- Silver carp jump in the race of water from one of the open bays in the Bonnet Carre Spillway in the first days after the spillway in 2011 began diverting approximately 350,000 cubic feet per second of water from the Mississippi River. Silver carp and bighead carp are nonnative species and leap from the water when powerboats are near and under way in rivers, oxbow lakes and the Atchafalaya Spillway.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday night that the opening of the Bonnet Carre structure will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Initially, it was thought that the opening would begin on Saturday, however Corps Col. Richard Hansen said earlier this week that the Corps wouldn’t open the structure until it was necessary and there have been some recent changes in river forecasts.

The Mississippi River water levels are rising because of heavy December rain in the Midwest. The opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway helps relieve pressure on New Orleans-area levees by making sure the water doesn’t flow faster than 1.25 million cubic feet per second through the city. That flow of water roughly translates to about 17 feet of water on the city levees that protect up to 20 feet.

This will be the 11th time the spillway has been opened, with the last time being during the historic flood of 2011. The spillway diverts water from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain, where it eventually drains into the Gulf of Mexico.

Although designed to be able to pass 250,000 cfs of water, the structure and receiving area can handle more.

The public can watch the opening from the project office at 16302 River Road, Norco. Drones and other air systems are not allowed to be in flight during the opening, according to the Corps.

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