Bonnet Carre Spillway Opened To Help Fortify New Orleans

Bonnet Carre Spillway Opened To Help Fortify New Orleans
Sunset over the Mississippi River from Southern Univeristy (No.1) bluepoint951 / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

A major spillway close to New Orleans was opened for the first time in almost five years Sunday.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre spillway in an effort to limit the flow of the Mississippi River to protect the low lying city of New Orleans. The river has swelled to its highest levels since the 2011 record flooding because of the heavy Mississippi Valley rain. It was the last time the spillway was opened.

According to, New Orleans Mitch Landrieu spoke of the spillway that serves as a protection of the city. At a news conference, Landrieu said, “What we’re witnessing right now is really an engineering miracle. So many of us for so long wanted to make sure our homes and our lives were protected by creating a levee system.”

The spillway, built in the wake of the disastrous 1927 flood, has been opened 10 times since 1931. It maintains the level of the river less than 1.25 million cubic feet per second, Yahoo News reports.

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The spillway opening nevertheless could affect the already limited supply of oysters, thereby negatively impacting the South Mississippi’s restaurant industry, as reported by Mississippi News Now. The opening of the spillway has received mixed reactions among the oyster industry along the gulf coast, Austin McQueen, a buyer of oysters for several Gulf Coast restaurants, said.

“Right now, everyone is struggling to buy oysters. They’re very scarce. When demand gets so high and supply so low, as you can imagine, prices soar. There are a lot of unknowns surrounding this opening that make this different than any of the openings before,” McQueen said.

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