The progress of levee protection on both the east and west banks of St. Charles Parish are continuing to improve.Steve Wilson, president of the Pontchartrain Levee District, said in a phone interview that they oversee the maintenance of the east bank levee, and are making great progress towards stronger levees.
Currently, the minimum elevation for all of the east bank levees is 10 feet, and according to Wilson, the district’s goal is to build the levees up to 13 1/2 feet by the 2007 hurricane season.
“We were approved for a $2.9 million grant through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government to make our east bank levees stronger,” said Wilson.
This federally funded program will allow the levee board to improve elevation conditions without having to spend local money.
“Normally we would be responsible for 35 percent of the total cost for additional lifts, and 20 percent of that would have to of been paid for by St. Charles Parish,” said Wilson.
According to the Pontchartrain Levee District, this is a $250,000 savings, and the estimated total project cost over the next ten years will be $35 million because of sinkage and repairs.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will start contract bidding for the elevation work within the next 30 days, and construction should start in October or November of this year.
Wilson also stated that there is a re-evaluation taking place that will determine if and when construction can begin to provide the parish’s levees with a 100 year protection plan for an additional lift that would bring the levees to stand at 17 feet.
Although it is too early to tell when work towards the 17-foot elevation can begin, the levee board states that they are already at a 3-foot improvement from last year, and they are ahead of schedule.
The west bank levees, maintained by the Lafourche Basin Levee District, are also making progress said Randy Trosclair, representative for the west bank district.
The parish council approved a $120,495 contract with B&K Construction Co., Inc. on July 24 to remove debris from the work site of the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee project.
This cleanup is part two of the Magnolia Ridge Clearing and Grubbing project that will allow levee construction and maintenance to continue.
The Pontchartrain Levee District meetings are held on the third Monday of each month , and meetings for the Lafourche Basin Levee District are held on the first Thursday of each month.
All meetings are open to the public.
For more information board meetings, contact the east bank levee board in Lutcher at 1-800-523-3148 and the west bank levee board in Vacherie at 225-265-7545.