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Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration Officials Open Additional Freshwater Diversions to Help Protect Coastal Wetlands from Oil Spill

BATON ROUGE (May 7, 2010) - Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration and parish officials have now opened six freshwater diversion structures along the lower Mississippi River to try to prevent oil from penetrating deep into sensitive coastal wetlands and estuaries.

The combined flow of the diversions is 18,900 cubic feet per second entering coastal wetlands from St. Charles, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish. Three of the diversions are located on the east side of the river and three on the west side.

In addition, OCPR coordinated with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development on Tuesday, May 4 to open the Ostrica Locks, located on the east bank of the Mississippi River in lower Plaquemines Parish, to divert additional water into the Breton Sound area. There is no gauge to monitor flow rates in the locks, but DOTD officials have reported a rapid flow from the river through the locks since Tuesday.

"We have opened every diversion structure we control on the state and parish level to try to limit the oil approaching our coasts," said OCPR Assistant Director Jerome Zeringue.

The state's two largest diversions, Caernarvon and Davis Pond, have been moving water at 8000 and 4000 cubic feet per second respectively since Friday, April 30.

Davis Pond's flow was increased to 7500 cubic feet per second on Friday, May 7 and can be increased to more than 10,000 cfs if conditions warrant because of an increase in flow in the Mississippi River. Due to recent rains in the Ohio River Valley, the Mississippi River is forecast to rise more than four feet in New Orleans by May 18, allowing for maximum flows of each diversion and siphon.

The following diversions are now open:

  • Davis Pond Diversion: St. Charles Parish. 7500 CFS (capacity 10,000)
  • Violet Siphon: St. Bernard Parish. 200 CFS (capacity 200)
  • Caernarvon Diversion: St. Bernard Parish. 8000 CFS (capacity 8,800 CFS)
  • Whites Ditch Siphon: Plaquemines Parish. 200 CFS (capacity 200 CFS)
  • Naomi Siphon: Plaquemines Parish. 1500 CFS (capacity 1500 CFS)
  • West Pointe A la Hache Siphon: Plaquemines Parish. 1500 CFS (capacity 1500 CFS)

OCPR officials will continue to closely monitor coastal conditions and will assess any potential damage to wetlands as impacts are reported.

The Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration is the implementation office for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.



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