The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday night that the opening of the Bonnet Carre structure will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Initially, it was thought that the opening would begin on Saturday, however Corps Col. Richard Hansen said earlier this week that the Corps wouldn’t open the structure until it was necessary and there have been some recent changes in river forecasts.
The Mississippi River water levels are rising because of heavy December rain in the Midwest. The opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway helps relieve pressure on New Orleans-area levees by making sure the water doesn’t flow faster than 1.25 million cubic feet per second through the city. That flow of water roughly translates to about 17 feet of water on the city levees that protect up to 20 feet.
This will be the 11th time the spillway has been opened, with the last time being during the historic flood of 2011. The spillway diverts water from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain, where it eventually drains into the Gulf of Mexico.
Although designed to be able to pass 250,000 cfs of water, the structure and receiving area can handle more.