Mississippi River closed to boaters

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Water levels on the Mississippi River are at their highest since 2011.

Water levels on the Mississippi River are at their highest since 2011.

On Monday, the state of Mississippi issued an executive order for the state’s department of wildlife, fisheries and parks to close the Mississippi River to boating.

“The closure is to recreational boating in the rivers, tributaries, oxbow lakes — anything affected by the rising water,” Warren Strain, communications and public affairs director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, told Trade Only Today. “If boaters have a legitimate reason, such as having to get to their property, they must adhere to a no-wake policy.”

The southern portion of the Mississippi River is experiencing moderate to major flooding, according to riverweather.com. At Osceola, Ark., yesterday, the river was at 39.49 feet and trending upward; at Tunica Riverpark in Mississippi, it was at 50.88 feet and climbing.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen since 2011,” Strain said. “It happens everywhere, but not to this extreme.”

The closure is open-ended, and Strain said waters have to recede to 2 feet below flood stage before the order will be rescinded.

Though neighboring states haven’t closed access to the river, they have been affected by the flooding. An article at Arkansasonline.com predicted that the river could rise to 41 feet, 7 feet above flood stage. Area levees are built 7 feet higher, so officials aren’t expecting the situation to worsen and have predicted a gradual recession starting next week.

In New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway to allow passage of the Mississippi River through the area. The order to open the spillway was issued by Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser of the USACE Mississippi Valley Division in Vicksburg, Miss.

Opening procedures began yesterday when the river was expected to reach the operational trigger of 1.2 million cubic feet per second moving past the spillway. All public access areas within the spillway are closed until further notice. The spillway is 28 miles above New Orleans and diverts water via Lake Ponchartrain to the Gulf of Mexico. It has a design capacity of 250,000 cubic feet per second, approximately 1.87 million gallons.

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