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PRESS RELEASE

Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration Officials Open Davis Pond Diversion to Full Capacity to Help Curb Oil Penetration into Coastal Marshes

BATON ROUGE (May 10, 2010) - Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration (OCPR) officials opened the Davis Pond freshwater diversion in St. Charles Parish to full capacity (10,650 cubic feet per second) at 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 10 to help minimize the potential impact of oil on sensitive marshes and estuaries in the northern Barataria Basin.

The diversion, which moves water from the Mississippi River near the town of Luling, into Lake Cataouatchie (Cat-a-watch-ie) and other areas of the Barataria Basin, was opened to 4000 cubic feet per second on Friday, April 30. Flow was increased to 7500 CFS on Friday, May 7.

The decision to increase flow to 10,650 CFS was made in response to oil spreading west of the Mississippi River in the last 48 hours.

"Oil has made its way west of the Mississippi River and we are using every tool we have available to try and protect our coastal resources," said Garret Graves, cha! irman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. "We have been using diversions, siphons and locks on both the east and west side for more than 10 days to try and push the oil away from our coastal wetlands. The Barataria Basin is a maze of marshy islands, grass beds, bayous, ponds and lakes. It will be nearly impossible for us to clean the oil out of these areas for years if it gets in there.

Louisiana's coastal fisheries, communities and wetlands have been challenged by four major hurricanes in the last five years. This latest challenge from the oil spill has the potential to adversely impact our unique culture for several years. Hundreds of thousands of recreational and commercial fishermen and families could be affected."

Six freshwater diversion structures and one navigational lock along the lower Mississippi River have been opened in the last 11 days to try to prevent oil from penetrating deep into sensitive coastal ecosystems both east and west of the river.

The combined flow of the diversions is 22,050 cubic feet per second.

The Ostrica Lock, located on the east bank of the Mississippi River in lower Plaquemines Parish, has been open since Tuesday, May 4 to allow water to flow into Breton Sound. There is no gauge to monitor flow rates, but state Department of Transportation and Development officials have reported a "rapid flow" of water through the structure.

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. 10,650 CFS (capacity 10,650)
  • 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.

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