The St. Charles Parish Council approved the spending of $1.6 million on wetland mitigation, clearing what one councilman called the last major hurdle for a levee in the Willowdale/Willowridge area.
“This is the biggest plus to me since I’ve been in office,” Councilman Shelley Tastet said. “This was the last issue we had with getting the permit, so now we ought to be cleared.
“This is, without a doubt, the closest we have been to getting a levee built around Willowdale/Willowridge.”
The proposed alignment for the second phase of the West Bank hurricane protection levee calls for a 7-foot-high levee to encase the Willowdale/Willowridge area. The project also includes a drainage canal and retention area on the dry side of the levee. A pump station would have to be built to move the water over the levee, according to the permit.
“The exact alignment could still be tweaked, but so far everything looks real good,” Tastet said.
Phase II would be part of a 10-mile long levee that would stretch from the Paradis Canal to the Davis Pond Diversion. The total cost of the levee system, which would include the construction of three pump stations, is estimated to be $150 million.
The parish hopes to get federal funding at some point during the project.
The $1.6 million that the parish will spend on wetland mitigation includes around $1.4 million to mitigate 48 acres of bottomland hardwood forest and 9.7 acres of bald cypress swamp at the Upper Bayou Folse Mitigation Area located in Lafourche Parish. It also calls for $158,000 to be spent to mitigate 3.9 acres of bottomland hardwood credits and 4 acres of cypress tupelo swamp credits at the Paradis Mitigation Bank Area.
Mitigation banking is the restoration, creation, enhancement, or preservation of a wetland, stream, or habitat conservation area which offsets expected adverse impacts to similar nearby ecosystems. Since the proposed Willowdale/Willowridge levee will impact wetlands, the parish has to pay to restore, create, enhance or preserve wetlands in other areas.