St. Charles Parish played a big part in keeping the land along the rising Mississippi River dry this year.
The Bonnet Carre Spillway was opened, as it was in 2008 and other infrequent years, to let the water in the river that would have overflowed its banks be channeled into Lake Pontchartrain. As a result, the river level descended and much of the residential areas along the banks remained dry.
Among the damages that resulted, however, were to Spillway Road between Montz and Norco during the more than 40 days it was open. As the waters rushed between the river and lake, sections of the roadway were washed out and other damages resulted.
Hopefully, the parish will be relieved of paying for the repairs. After all, we were doing a service to the state and nation when the spillway was opened.
The good news is that the road has been reopened after temporary repairs were completed by parish workers.
The spillway has served a great purpose in the past. Each spring when the snow and ice melt up north, much of the water goes into the river and travels downstream so long as it doesn't overflow its banks which is where the Bonnet Carre comes in.
One other service the spillway could serve would be to divert fresh water into the northern wetlands of St. Charles and surrounding parishes every year as the Davis Pond Diversion Project does south of the river. It would deposit silt and fresh water to build up our wetlands and protect them from erosion.
Adjustments to the way the water flows for that purpose from the spillway would be necessary. But it would make the spillway useful every year, not just those instances when floodwaters threaten.