U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Army Corps of Engineers expects to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway Friday afternoon.

Located upriver from New Orleans, the Bonnet Carre Spillway acts as a release valve for the Mississippi River. When the water reaches a flow of 1.25 million cubic feet per second, the Corps opens the spillway to divert some of that water into Lake Pontchartrain.

Heavy rains in the Midwest have caused the Mississippi River to swell. To relieve pressure on local levees, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin operating the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Norco on Wednesday.

The levees near New Orleans are only built to handle water moving at 1.25 million cubic feet per second -- quick enough to fill the Superdome in about a minute, the Corps estimates. When the river gets going that fast the Corps opens the spillway, diverting some of that water into Lake Pontchartrain.

On Wednesday, congress passed America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which could encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to build more green infrastructure.

Infrastructure bills are fairly routine. Generally passed every couple years, they often approve lists of projects for things like river dredging or levees -- projects that the Corps builds.

New this year: a section that requires the Corps to consider “natural or nature-based” projects as alternatives if it wants to build something.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a system for classifying river and hurricane levees across the country. On Thursday, officials announced the final classifications for Southeast Louisiana. From Baton Rouge to New Orleans levee systems are considered “Moderate to High Risk.”

Though that may sound concerning, the Army Corps stresses that these classifications are not safety ratings. New Orleans District commander Colonel Mike Clancy says the levees themselves are in good shape.

Diverting Future Floods (and Possibly Funds?)

Jan 26, 2017
courtesy LA DOTD

After last August’s floods, many claimed the Comite River Diversion Canal would have prevented much of the damage.

“Most people would not have flooded, but this traumatic event happened because of ineffectiveness,” says Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges.


MRGO Wetlands Restoration in Doubt

Sep 18, 2015
Michael Maples | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    

The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet was the subject of two lawsuits this year. One found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the MRGO, must pay the full cost of restoring the deteriorating wetlands surrounding the shipping channel. The other decision found that the MRGO magnified the effects of flooding in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes during Hurricane Katrina, resulting in a temporary decline in property values. WRKF's Nick Janzen sits down with Chip Kline, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.  

For years, some small towns and farmers along the Mississippi River have been battling each other over a flood project set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On the western shore, farmers in southeast Missouri need the project to protect their valuable farmland. But small river towns on the eastern side of the river say the project protects those influential farmers at the cost of their small communities. As a last-ditch effort, the opposition to the project is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to kill the project all together.

US Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets Thursday to discuss reforms to the Army Corps of Engineers.

One of Louisiana’s senators, David Vitter, now sits as the ranking minority member of the committee.

Vitter saif the Corps has a history of putting projects on the back burner because of cost and bureaucratic entanglements.

“Important projects take twenty years or more, deadlines are almost never met,” Vitter said. “It’s just one paper shuffle after another.”