Port officials expect the projected 8-foot crest in the Atchafalaya River to exacerbate the buildup of sediment in the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel, Port of Morgan City Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said. The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commission met Monday. National Weather Service forecasters expect the river to crest March 24 near 8 feet in Morgan City. As of this morning, the river was at 5.8 feet in Morgan City near the 6-foot flood stage. The forecast shows the river reaching 7.2 feet Saturday. The temporary flood protection structure is still in place on Bayou Chene and will hold back almost 2 feet high of water if the river reaches 8 feet, Wade said. There hasn’t been any discussion about opening the Morganza Spillway because the Mississippi River levels aren’t high enough, Port Economic Development Manager Cindy Cutrera said. “We’re getting all of this water from the Red River,” Cutrera said. More high water means more sediment buildup in the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel, Wade said. The channel is congressionally authorized to be dredged to 20 feet deep, but the Corps only has funds to dredge a couple of months a year. “We’ve already got a bad problem. It’s just going to make it worse,” Wade said. Some vessels, including import-export ships, cannot travel to the Port of Morgan City right now due to the sediment buildup. The port has about $5.6 million left in dredging funds for the next six months that will all go toward a dredging demonstration using a self-propelled hopper dredge, Wade said.