Release Date: 04/14/2008

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has instituted an intensive data collection project to measure the effects of the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway on the ecology of the Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne area.

The project is designed to collect information about environmental conditions in the system as well as changes in distribution of important fish and shellfish species and oyster mortality related to the opening. Previous openings have resulted in algal blooms within the Lake, displacement of saltwater species, and short duration oyster mortalities. Long-term effects have included reducing density of oyster predators, adding beneficial nutrients, and reducing salinities in outer marshes. The spillway opening may also provide a pathway for non-native species such as silver carp into the Pontchartrain system.  

The United States Army Corps of Engineers announced on Thursday, April 10 that the Bonnet Carre' Spillway will open on Friday, April 11. The spillway opening was triggered by rising water levels and flood conditions on the lower Mississippi River. The spillway will divert a portion of the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain upstream of New Orleans. The Mississippi delta region has experienced a wet spring resulting in increased freshwater inflow from the Pearl River and other rivers into the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.

For more information, contact Heather Finley, 225-765-2956, or hfinley@wlf.louisiana.gov.