BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards said “it’s more likely than not” the Morganza Spillway will be opened due to the Mississippi River’s record-high water levels.
Edwards told reporters during a news conference on Thursday, May 23 that he expects a decision on whether or not the structure will be opened to be made by May 28.
The State of Louisiana has no control of the Morganza Spillway. It is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
River levels on the Mississippi River in Louisiana are expected to be “abnormally high” through July.
If the spillway is opened, Edwards said it would likely remain open through July. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) is currently working with local officials in the parishes that would be affected.
Edwards did point out some good news, saying dry weather is forecasted in the Atchafalaya Basin for the next five to seven days.
However, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain said he expects most crops in the Atchafalaya Basin to be lost if the Morganza Spillway is opened.
If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides to open the Morganza Spillway in early, it would be only be the third time in history the structure has been opened up to relieve the Mississippi River. It was previously opened in 2011 and 1973.
The Corps opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway in St. Charles Parish for the second time in the same year on May 10.
A new record for Mississippi River water levels in Baton Rouge was set May 20.
May 20 marked 136 consecutive days at or above flood stage, breaking the record of 135 days established during the Great Flood of 1927.
The Mississippi River’s water levels were higher the last time the spillway was opened in 2011.
The Corps could start opening the spillway as early as June 2, if the latest river forecasts are accurate.
WAFB will continue to monitor the situation surrounding the Morganza Spillway.