Sunset Levee District upgrade moving parish closer to controlling flood insurance costs

In the latest upgrade to St. Charles Parish’s flood protection, the addition of two pumps to the Sunset Pump Station brings to nearly $2 million invested at the location and could bring residents closer to getting FEMA certification for the locally built levees.

The Parish Council recently awarded the $862,735 bid to Fleming Construction Co. of Kenner.

Of this amount, Parish Grants Officer Holly Fonseca said the parish’s share is $301,536 with the $561,199 difference coming from the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.The pumps are the latest addition to the location that borders Bayou Gauche, Paradis and parts of Des Allemands on the west bank of the parish.

At an estimated cost of $1.02 million, the parish’s Department of Public Works also has upgraded the Sunset Pump Station building; done preventative maintenance of the diesel engines; reconditioned the engine control system on each engine; cleaned and repaired or replaced the radiator on each engine, as well as installed two temporary hydraulic pumps. Work is underway on overhauling the existing pumps with the temporary pumps to remain in place until this work is done and the two new hydraulic pumps are installed by the contractor.

Parish President Larry Cochran said the parish government is working closely with the Lafourche Basin Levee District get the proposed Highway 90 Levee Alignment included in the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s (CPRA) 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

“The proposed Alignment will reduce storm surge risk to our parish’s West Bank and other communities in the Upper Barataria Basin,” Cochran said. “Inclusion of the alignment in the master plan will also make improvements to the Sunset reach of the levee system eligible for grant funding. That has been the parish’s strategy with the other reaches and it is the same with the Sunset reach.”

The two are working jointly to acquire rights of way to operate, maintain, repair, rehabilitate and replace existing Sunset Levee infrastructure.

The Lafourche Parish Levee District contracted a firm to provide geotechnical engineering services for the Sunset Levee at an estimated $1.2 million, which is developing a conceptual design for the permit application for the proposed Highway 90 levee alignment project that includes bringing the Sunset Levee to the 100 year level of protection.

Councilman Paul Hogan added the Sunset Drainage District levees are an integral part of the proposed Highway 90 Levee Alignment and having this system included in the CPRA’s master plan “is something that we, as a parish, must make every effort possible and necessary for that occur.”

Hogan added, “We must and we will do everything in our power to provide flood protection to all areas where possible and to work with those in Washington D.C to maintain affordable flood insurance for all.”

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