Plans to open lake floodgate on Bayou St John steps closer to reality

Print
Email
|

wwltv.com

Posted on May 19, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Plans to regularly open the flood gate connecting Lake Pontchartrain to Bayou St John are steps closer to becoming a reality.

The increase in water flow and marsh grass planting that wrapped up on Saturday are all efforts to help restore the bayou.

"It's the best spot to fish, if you don't have a boat, if you just have time to relax," said Kenneth Lopez. The Treme resident first came to the area as young boy with his dad. Decades later he still comes back to crab.

Back in the day before the floodgate and old dam, Lopez remembers bigger catch on the Bayou. Now those rarely happen.

"There was a guy kayak fishing right in front of Cabrini School. He caught a red fish like that. You ain't seen that since I was a little boy in this bayou," said Lopez who on Monday caught a half-dozen blue crabs.

Fishermen's luck could soon change. Right now, the Flood Protection Authority, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation are looking at restoring the natural flow of water into the bayou.

An operational plan is in the works to figure out the right time to open the floodgate by factoring in water conditions like Lake pollution and salinity levels. Hurricane season will be off limits.

"As a safe guard they do not intend to open the gate during the peak of hurricane season," said Dr. John Lopez with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

"Less slime is always good. Getting in and out of kayaks is tricky along this bank," said Rhonda Ardoin with Bayou Kayaks.

 The company just celebrated its fourth birthday. Ardoin came up with the business concept after long drives to the Northshore for kayaking adventures.

The outdoor enthusiast supports more water flow into the bayou. In her eyes, it will mean less slime and a rejuvenated ecosystem.

"To allow it to be itself and still be in the middle of the city. I think that would be the best way to approach it," said Ardoin.

For one Treme native, restoring the bayou also boils down to tradition. "It'll keep the culture going for one. I think that's a plus. It's better that the inner city youth learn how to do this. They'll stay out of trouble. That's a plus. Its good for the city in general," said Lopez.

The Levee Board will have the final say on when and how long the flood gate will open.

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation says outside of hurricane season it will likely be at least once a month.

No word on when an official announcement is expected.

Print
Email
|