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MANDEVILLE, LA — Before Hurricane Barry pushed water from Lake Pontchartrain into Mandeville’s lakefront, the city had already closed its beach due to concerns over the possibility of toxic algae being in the water.
In fact, the Corps of Engineers has kept the Bonnet Carre Spillway open for more than 100 days this year, and the algae bloom following it has led to bans on swimming, wading, and fishing on both sides of the lake. The freshwater from the Mississippi River is creating a perfect environment for the algae to bloom in the summer heat.
When Barry pushed the lake’s water over the Mandeville lakefront, it brought water up to homes and businesses. The Mandeville Police Department used barricades to try to stop people from going to the lakefront and wading in the high water. But many people walked or drove around the barricades to see the flooding and take pictures.
Now the water is back inside Lake Pontchartrain. But it left a soggy and green mess on land. At this point, there’s no confirmation that anything green is toxic algae, but Mandeville’s mayor isn’t waiting to find out. He has cleanup crews on the job and is urging people to stay away as the barricades begin to come down.
“We are cleaning up a lot of debris,” Mayor Donald Villere told WGNO. “And we’re playing it safe in that regard. So I would still caution people as you go down to the lakefront… that stuff is probably still around.”
Villere hopes to reopen the city’s beach but says, even if Barry flushes a lot of the algae out of the lake, the spillway remains open which will only maintain the freshwater growing environment.