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Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Lafourche levee district advances projects

Lafourche levee district advances projects

The North Lafourche Levee District is doing maintenance dredging of the East Theriot Canal in the Raceland area.

Crews are dredging the canal from the East Theriot boat launch off La. 308 to just before the 40 Arpent Canal.

The project is expected to last several months and could affect boat traffic in the area. Levee District officials have asked boaters to use the nearby Sanchez or Larousse boat launches in the meantime.

The district estimates that projects will cost roughly $185,000

At last month’s board meeting, the district also voted to work with the Lafourche Basin Levee District on the design of the Upper Barataria Risk Reduction project.

The project aims to protect six parishes from hurricane storm surges as part of the 600-square-mile Barataria Basin, including Lafourche Parish.

“The only way we are ever going to get one part of this project or the other completed is if we look at this as a whole and by working the entire project together,” Executive Director Dwayne Bourgeois said about the agreement.

The North Lafourche Levee District is committing $600,000 to match the $2 million from the Lafourche Basin Levee District to move forward with design and permitting for the project.

If local agencies can get the project to a “shovel ready” status, it will be much easier to get state and federal money for construction, levee officials said.

“Shovel ready is the key, in order to be first in line,” said Mark Roberts, the project’s manager for Burk-Kleinpeter Inc.

The Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane-protection system in Terrebonne Parish helps protect the southwest sides of the Barataria Basin. And the West Bank and Vicinity system protects the north and eastern sides. That leaves a gap of protection for the six parishes surrounding Barataria, Roberts said.

“This gap needs to be filled to protect the vulnerable area,” he said.

The total project calls for a 32-mile levee system, built at a 12.5-foot elevation, from Bayou Lafourche to the West Bank and Vicinity levee system. It also includes a barge gate in Bayou Des Allemands. The gate will be a vital part to the project, preventing possible flooding from the backside, Roberts said.

St. Charles Parish is already spending millions on its share of the levee, Roberts said.

The full plan would cost about $650 million. Until more money can be secured, the group is looking to build an interim levee at about 7.5 feet, cutting costs in half.

The state’s Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority included portions of the project in its 2020 draft plan, including $3.5 million for the Sunset Levee and $6.5 million for the Davis Pond project over three years.

The group is also working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a feasibility study that could open up the project for federal money, Bourgeois said.

-- Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.