|Photo by Matthew Hinton, Times-Picayune|
At a news conference in Baton Rouge, Gov. Bobby Jindal said the Army Corps of Engineers has made it clear to him that it will order the Morganza Floodway to be opened on Saturday or on Sunday at the latest.
The corps manual for water flow in the lower Mississippi River calls for the spillway to open when the flow of water past Red River Landing, across from the Louisiana State Prison at Angola, reaches 1.5 million cubic feet per second.
"At Red River landing today, the Army Corps said the water flow is currently at 1.41 million cubic feet per second," Jindal said, and is expected to reach the trigger point on Saturday.
The corps had opened 223 of the 350 bays in the Bonnet Carre Spillway, upriver from New Orleans, and will open the rest in the next few days. That will divert 250,000 cubic feet per second of water from the Mississippi to Lake Pontchartrain, about 1/6 of the river's volume. The National Weather Service warned that when fully open, the spillway will cause lake levels to rise as much as 2-1/2 feet.
"Everybody is on pins and needles, from the public to the decision makers, which makes it more frightening to the public when the decision makers don't know what's going to happen in the next 12 hours," said Matthew Rota, director of science and water policy with the Gulf Restoration Network.
Reporting by the Times-Picayune.