Corps insists tie-in won’t flood parish
Officials still concerned project will create problems
Representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers told a parish Hurricane Protection Projects Committee that the Western Tie-In now under construction would have little impact on the area.
Officials and residents have been concerned that the 4-mile system of levees and floodwalls that will follow the contour of the Davis Pond Diversion from the Lake Cataouatche levee south of Waggaman to the Mississippi River levee near Ama would cause additional flooding in St. Charles.
The parish doesn’t have any protection on the western side of the diversion and it would seem that the storm surge stacking up against the tie-in would have to go somewhere, officials have said. In fact, Councilman Terry Authement said the tie-in would make the parish a spillway.
“The reason you open the spillway for the river is to relieve pressure so that you don’t flood something down river,” he said. “In this application, by not having the project continue through St. Charles, we are a spillway.
“The water is going to go somewhere.”
In response to those concerns, the corps performed hydraulic modeling that showed the effects a 100-year storm would cause now and the effects it would cause once the tie-in is constructed.
Tie-in project manager Jeff Williams said that the results showed only minimal changes in water level in St. Charles Parish.
Parish President V.J. St. Pierre then pulled out a map that showed ongoing levee projects and the problems they could cause the area.
“You have the west guide levee east of us and Lafourche will have a levee west of us and all that water is going to stack up,” he said. “Where is it going to go? It has to come right down our gut.”
Nancy Powell, who put together the hydraulic model for the corps, told the committee that the reason there would be no additional flooding is that the tie-in is running parallel to a levee alignment that already exist.
“This is not a new alignment,” she said.
But Public Works Director Sam Scholle said that the parish is still concerned about what will happen to all the water that will be stacked against the tie-in levees, especially if a storm brings a strong southerly wind.
“With Ike, the water reversed flow for 11 days and the water flowed up in reverse up the Paradis Canal and also flowed up through Lake Des Allemands,” he said. “The concern is when that much water gets stacked there and you get a strong southerly wind and it stays for days on end, that volume of water towards Jefferson Parish is stacking and it can’t go anywhere.
“The concern is that it’s going to funnel its way or move into St. Charles Parish.”
Tastet, who said he was out day and night trying to stop water from moving into the Willowdale/Willowridge area during Ike, said the tie-in would definitely put more pressure on the subdivisions.
“We will get flooded,” he said.
Powell told the committee that the parish does have challenging drainage issues and that she would welcome the opportunity to provide additional information to the parish regarding the effects of neighboring levees.
The tie-in is scheduled to be complete on June 1, 2011. To see a video explaining the Western Tie-In in greater detail, visit http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/hps2/videos/tiein/tiein_video.asp.
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