NEW ORLEANS -- Nearly two weeks after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre spillway, officials are beginning to see the impact from diverting part of the swollen Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain.
Officials from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation described condition of the lake as abnormal, but not hazardous.
“The system is general in the Pontchartrain Basin area is pretty fresh right now, so that may slow down the return of the salinity somewhat,” said Dr. John Lopez.
Officials from the foundation have been testing the lake since the spillway was opened on May 9 So far, they have only found low bacteria counts.
According to estimates by the foundation, Lake Pontchartrain is three-quarters full of water from the Mississippi River, and they expect it to reach 90 percent by next week.
Algae bloom will develop later this summer, according to the foundation, and that could prompt some restrictions on the lake.
While the algae may be bad for fish in the lake in the short-term, as the algae dies, it will provide food for the shrimp and crab, said officials from the foundation.
“It should correct itself,” said Chad Barrilleaux, of Robert, who was fishing in the lake Friday morning. “They did it back in ’08… We’ve been here since then and caught plenty of fish. We do pretty good. The fresh water shouldn’t hurt it.”