Spillway’s opening is historical

The opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway earmarks a decade long event in St. Charles Parish.

The curios have been stopping along the levees on both sides of the river to get a bird’s eye view of water levels.  The area once used for recreation is now a gateway of protection against possible flooding in New Orleans and surrounding parishes.

In the spring,  heavy rains along the river and its tributaries, combined with melting snows in the mountains, raise the water level. The basin soaks up some of the water. If its soil becomes saturated the water rushes down the tributaries to the main stream and floods can occur, bringing destruction and tragedy.

But what is the history of the spillway?

The Bonnet Carre’ Spillway was carved out of the town of Montz, in 1928 and was completed in 1931.

The Spillway was considered a design marvel in its time.  The 135,000 cubic yards of concrete is sufficient strength to fight the forces of the Mississippi River. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers designed a special concrete that would handle just over 5,000 pounds per square inch to use in the structure. The product has seen little if no change from when it was built. The total cost was $14,212,200.

The spillway is a habitat and sanctuary for thousands of birds. When the Spillway is dry it is used for many recreational events including dog trials, model airplane competition, fishing, hunting, bird watching, photography, running and motorcycle riding.

The spillway is a useful classroom tool designed to teach students about environmental protection and preserving the wetlands.


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