“To our Mississippi River Flood Fight Partners and Stakeholders,
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a brief update on the current Mississippi River high water event and our corresponding flood fight efforts. Despite the impacts of COVID-19 on so many aspects of life, flood fighting has and will continue to remain one of my critical missions that USACE ensures is fully resourced and executed. Today marks the 105th day that we (the New Orleans District) have been in this year’s (2020) flood fight so far. Almost half that time has seen the Mississippi River at Carrolton over 15′. As many of you recall, MG Toy authorized the operation of Bonnet Carre’ spillway for the fifteenth time in its 89-year history beginning on April 3rd to address flows that would have exceeded 1.25M through New Orleans. As of today, the structure has been open 17 days.
Based on today’s National Weather Service long-range forecast, the peak flow for the rise in the river above the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway appears to have passed and leads us to anticipate a steady fall in the river over the next month. If this forecast holds, we assess that we will be able to resume closing operations at Bonnet Carre’ Spillway later this week and complete the closure of the structure during the first week of May. As you know, the forecast can and often does change on a DAILY basis. Every day we are closely monitoring any change to the NWS forecast and adapting how we operate the structure based on actual conditions on the river. Our goal is to ensure that we meet the project’s intent – to maintain safe river levels through New Orleans and communities below the spillway. We have closure criteria for the structure that maximizes our closing crew’s safety while seeking to avoid the diversion of any more water than necessary through the spillway and into Lake Pontchartrain.
While we anticipate a closure at Bonnet Carre’ in early May if the current forecast holds, the river is expected to remain within Phase II parameters (above 15’ at Carrollton) for the duration of the current 28-day forecast which means we’ll continue to operate at a heightened level of vigilance. My Emergency Operations Center will continue operating 24/7 and in continuous, close communication with the National Weather Service who will alert us to changes in the forecast that may impact flood fight operations. Our daily inspections of the levees in conjunction with our levee district partners and the prohibition of work within 1,500 feet of the levee will continue as well. Our combined continued vigilance as a team is essential because the river’s fall releases pressure against the levees which increases the potential for levee slides and bank failures. This truly requires a team effort.
Thanks for all your continued support and partnership during this year’s high river event. If you need any assistance or have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Emergency Management Office at 504-862-1102.
Colonel Stephen F. Murphy
64th Commander & District Engineer
New Orleans District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers”