Coast leaders file motion in Bonnet Carre Spillway Case; Spillway opened Friday

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Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mississippi River Commission open the way for the Bonnet Carre Spillway to open earlier today to alleviate Mississippi River flooding as well as lives and property near the City of New Orleans.

News 25 has learned that on Thursday, South Mississippi leaders, cities, and other local entities filed a motion in the locally filed case to compel the corps to produce documents about their management of the spillway.

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For the third time in less than two years, the Mississippi River Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have green lighted the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway starting Friday morning to help alleviate Mississippi River flooding and to keep New Orleans from flooding, despite two pending lawsuits filed by Coast mayors and supervisors, as well as state officials,in an  effort to give the Coast and Mississippi a voice in the decision whether to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway since it’s the Magnolia State’s economy and environment that takes the biggest hit from the estimated several billion gallons of water a week that gushes into the Mississippi Sound. Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Director Dr. Moby Solangi said, ” It’s not simply fresh water. It’s river water which contains all these contaminants, agriculture waste, industrial waste, sewage waste.  Salinity is one part of it, but the pollutants have a longer term effect. We need to be looking at the abrupt change that occurs when the Mississippi River is diverted to this area.”

Coast leaders say South Mississippi still has not recovered from last year’s unprecedented back-to-back openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, which resulted in federal fisheries disaster declarations due just in part to the decimated shrimping and oyster harvests in our area, as well as a massive toxic algae bloom in the sound last year. The recent decision to open the spillway compelled Coast governments to push back and ask the court to have the corps produce facts to back up its claims that opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway is allegedly just quote “routine operations” and that they are not subject to the National Environmental Policy Act.

According to Dr. Moby Solangi, who has more than 40 years experience as a marine biologist and researcher on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this most recent decision to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway puts Mississippi and the Gulf Coast in particular between a rock and a hard place. “All of these issues are extremely important. Mississippi today is the only state in the union today that has a double whammy – from the sea and the land.”

And while it is documented that a leader with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District stated during a February 19th meeting this year with the Louisiana Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority Board that the corps did not expect to open the Bonnet Carre or Morganza spillways this year – less than two months later – on April 3rd – the spillway has been opened.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!

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