Mississippi River drops enough to begin closing big spillway

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Mississippi River is finally low enough again to let the Army Corps of Engineers begin closing a huge spillway after a record-breaking run diverting water into Lake Ponchartrain (PONCH-uh-trane).

The corps said Monday in a news release that about 10 of the 168 open bays in the Bonnet Carré (“Bonnie Carrie”) spillway would be closed by day’s end.

Spokesman Matt Roe says full closing is expected to take about a week, with daily checks to make sure the river remains low enough to avoid stressing New Orleans’ levees. The spillway was created to limit the river’s rush past New Orleans, keeping it below 1.25 million cubic feet (35,400 cubic meters) per second — an amount that would fill the Empire State Building in 30 seconds.

The spillway was opened May 10 for the second time this year.

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