If you have been keeping up with levee protection efforts in south Louisiana after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, you should know something about “Morganza To The Gulf” — a $12.9 billion, 72-mile system of levees, floodgates, and locks in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.
A completed “Morganza” system will mean hurricane and tidal surge protection for thousands of homes and businesses in the two parishes.
The portions of the project within Lafourche parish are sections “K” and “L” which will be constructed along the west side of Grand Bayou going north from Pointe-Aux-Chenes and then east connecting with Lafourche’s hurricane protection system in Cut Off.
The cost of permitting and construction for “K” and “L” has been partially funded by CPRA and CIAP monies and by a cooperative endeavor between Terrebonne, North Lafourche and South Lafourche (SLLD) levee districts, and Lafourche and Terrebonne parish governments, with SLLD the responsible party.
Gates to close Grand Bayou and Bayou Blue are in future phases of the project and will be financed when funds become available.
At the July 14th South Lafourche Levee District (SLLD) public meeting, Steve Smith of All South Consulting Engineers (New Orleans) announced that the final permit for “K” and “L” from Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) which took two years to obtain has been given to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
“The ball is in their court,” said Smith, who believes that new questions from USACE after receipt of the permit are a sign that the project is moving forward.
USACE is requesting financial guarantees for mitigation, and conservation easements for the mitigation areas, he said.
Smith stated that a letter from the state guaranteeing that money is “in hand” for mitigation has already been provided to the Corps.
The easement issue--a guarantee between landowner and user that the property set aside for mitigation shall be used for that purpose only--is one that SLLD General Manager Windell Curole and Smith are developing now for the USACE.
The areas of mitigation are about 40 acres of marsh owned by Apache Corporation along the SLLD levee in Cut Off, and another 40 acres within the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Point-Aux-Chenes reserve.
Completion of sections “K” and “L” would provide flood-protection for the Terrebonne community of Pointe-Aux-Chenes, and the central Lafourche area, including Lockport, Mathews and Raceland.
In 2005 Hurricane Rita almost flooded Lockport, and virtually every levee in Terrebonne was breached.
In a Tri-Parish Times interview earlier this year, Curole and former state senator Reggie Dupre, who is now the director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District, both agree that “Morganza” is important to central and north Lafourche, as well as Terrebonne Parish.
“The biggest benefit, I think, is the Larose, Lockport and even as far as Raceland areas in Lafourche Parish,” Dupre said. “And then Terrebonne Parish has a tremendous benefit, because even after we close the HNC (Houma Navigation Canal) near Dulac and we close Lake Boudreaux from filling up, we still have the potential of backwater flooding filling the Intracoastal Waterway from the Lafourche Parish side. There’s a lot of areas that have benefits in this.”
More information on “Morganza To The Gulf” can be obtained at www.tlcd.org.
Posted on Fri, July 18, 2014
by Buster Avera, Contributing Writer