The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Louisiana Office of Coastal Restoration and Protection (LCRP) and Plaquemines Parish officials opened the Bayou Lamoque freshwater gates, allowing water to flow from the Mississippi River into the wetlands near Black Bay and Breton Sound at 7,500 cubic feet per second. As the oil slick closes in, the parish may open additional gates to reach full capacity at 12,000 cubic feet per second.
There are seven diversions and one navigation lock opened to move water from the river and into wetlands: four in Plaquemines Parish, three in St. Bernard Parish and one in St. Charles Parish. The total flow of water from all seven gates is 29,550 cubic feet per second: Bayou Lamoque Diversion in Plaquemines Parish at 7,500 CFS; Davis Pond Diversion in St. Charles Parish at 10,650 CFS (capacity 10,650); Violet Siphon in St. Bernard Parish at 200 CFS (capacity 200); Caernarvon Diversion in St. Bernard Parish at 8,000 CFS (capacity 8,800); Whites Ditch Siphon in Plaquemines Parish at 200 CFS (capacity 200); Naomi Siphon in Plaquemines Parish at 1,500 CFS (capacity 1,500); and West Pointe A La Hache Siphon in Plaquemines Parish, 1,500 CFS (capacity 1,500).
LDWF officials say the effects of oil could last for decades and hundreds of thousands of families potentially could be affected. They say opening these gates will flush fresh water into the area, hopefully thinning the petroleum or keeping it from making landfall in a region already impacted by four hurricanes in five years. Garret Graves with LCPR says getting oil out of the wetlands would be "nearly impossible" once it's in. — Alex Woodward