Last Modified: Wednesday, November 07, 2012 6:35 PM
The Army Corps of Engineers will cut operating hours for south Louisiana locks, including the Calcasieu River Saltwater Barrier in Westlake, beginning Dec. 30.
The corps says the Saltwater Barrier’s operating hours will go from 16 to 12 hours a day. It now operates 6 a.m.-10 p.m.; that will change to 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
At the request of local government officials, it will stay open until midnight Thursday through Sunday for the two May weekends of Contraband Days, and on the Fourth of July.
District 14 Police Juror Hal McMillin said the changes in hours of operation will directly affect outdoorsmen.
“I hope that there will be some sort of a public hearing for input on this, and I hope that the corps will work with Southwest Louisiana to keep the locks open as much as possible,” he said.
“This will affect the recreational quality of life that we have in Southwest Louisiana. I hope that they can work to somehow keep these locks open and not put a hindrance on our outdoor enthusiasts.”
The Schooner Bayou Control Structure in Abbeville, the Berwick Lock, and the Calumet Floodgates will also be affected. The biggest cut is at the Berwick Lock. It now operates 24 hours a day, but instead will operate 16 hours a day, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
The Schooner Bayou Control Structure, which minimizes salinity in the Mermentau Basin, will operate 12 hours a day instead of 14, closing at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. daily.
The East and West Calumet Floodgates are open unless water is high. When that happens, their operating hours will go from 12 hours to eight hours a day. Hours are now 6 a.m.-6 p.m. and will change to 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Berwick Lock and Calumet Floodgate reduce the risk of floods on the lower Atchafalaya River and Bayou Teche and also are a navigation link to lower Bayou Teche.
Money saved by reduced hours will go to dredging and lock maintenance, the corps said in a news release Wednesday.
Staff Writer Natalie Stewart contributed to this story.