WWNO News Reports
7:38 pm
Tue May 10, 2011

Mississippi River Water To Affect Fish, Water Quality In Lake Pontchartrain

New Orleans, La. – The fresh water pouring into the saltwater estuaries is expected to push brown shrimp and fish out of the lake. But John Lopez of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation says the species will likely recover. The water quality is an immediate concern, because it contains nutrients that create alga blooms that will decay and consume too much oxygen.

"If the spillway is fully opened, and that is the expectation but not a certainty, but if it is opened fully, I anticipate they'll be some very large alga blooms that'll cover a large section of the lake. Probably it could occur in July and maybe in August."

Lopez says the spillway opening now, as opposed to 2008 when it opened several weeks earlier, means the nutrient-rich agricultural runoff will have an idea environment for developing algae in the warm water that's under calm summer wind conditions.

"It's a fairly strong effect but it's pretty short term. And we do expect that the lake will probably fully recover to the condition it was before the opening, probably, you know, by the end of the year."

Lopez says the Army Corps of Engineers is working with state, local and environmental groups to minimize and keep track of the damage.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming