125 bays opened on Bonnet Carré Spillway to ease swollen Mississippi River

ST. CHARLES PARISH, La. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened about 125 of the 350 bays that make up the Bonnet Carré Spillway as of Tuesday afternoon.

About 90,000 cubic feet of water per second was moving through the spillway Tuesday morning, but that number was higher by the end of Tuesday.

The spillway opened for the 12th time in history Thursday (March 8) to relieve pressure on the New Orleans levee system and the rising Mississippi River. The river was expected to crest Tuesday (March 13).

Some of that water will be diverted into Lake Pontchartrain and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico, bypassing New Orleans.

The spillway is part of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project, which protects a population of more than 4.5 million people, according to the Corps of Engineers. It also protects crops valued at more than $51 billion and a $106 billion a year manufacturing base.

The river has already overflowed its banks in north Louisiana.

The Spillway was constructed in response to the catastrophic flooding of 1927. It was completed in 1931.

The last time it opened was in 2016.

Officials said the spillway gates could be open anywhere from two-to-four weeks.