Days of nonstop rain and rising water levels are forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to do something that has never been done before....
The Bonnet Carre Spillway will open for a second time this year.
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is watching the situation closely. The environmental group says that opening the spillway for a second time in the same high water season is uncharted territory.
Already, Corps of Engineers workers have said that the first opening this season had a small impact on wildlife in Louisiana waters, killing perhaps 1% of adult oysters.
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation says it used to take the lake about 6 months to recover from spillway openings. But since the post-Katrina closure of the MRGO, the lake has had a higher level of fresh water. So when the Mississppi River water arrives through the spillway, it doesn't take as long to recover. The group's workers estimate the recovery time now at more around 3-4 months.
But there are concerns that an algae bloom could cause more problems for the lake's wildlife. The blooms, if large enough, can choke off the oxygen level in the water, killing animals.
"The algae blooms are kind of like a cake, like making a cake. You've got to have the right recipe of the ingredients, the right timing, the right temperature. So this adds that ingredient of nutrients late into the season when temperatures are increasing," said John Lopez, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's Coastal Sustainability Program Director.
But opening the spillway does not guarantee a large algae bloom.
"We really haven't seen a large algae bloom since 1997, and we've had several openings," Lopez added.
At a press conference on Thursday, it was announced the spillway would possibly be opened next Tuesday.
But at 11 A.M. on Friday, May 10, an email was sent out stating that starting at 1 P.M. today, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin opening the bays.