An update on plans to upgrade the Sunset Drainage District levee ended a debate over whether it had significantly subsided and set in motion efforts to seek the funding to do the entire project.
“There has been very little settlement in the levee over that five-year period,” said Oneil Malbrough Sr., GIS Engineering’s vice president of coastal design and infrastructure.
A GIS survey done this year shows 85 percent of the levee subsided 3 inches or less with most of the remainder at six-foot or less difference compared to 2014 survey findings.
Plans call for lifting the earthen levee to 7-1/2 feet consistently from the Davis Pond Diversion to the Tippy Pump Station, bringing the West Bank Hurricane Protection system closer to 100-year protection.
Councilman Paul Hogan, who has long raised concerns about the levee elevations and maintained the levee was sinking from lack of maintenance, welcomed the news about its integrity and work possibly starting up this year.
But Parish President Larry Cochran cited the unnecessary concerns raised and responded, “Mr. Hogan took some unfinished, raw data and computed it himself and had this erroneous information. We were still compiling the information and we felt pretty good the way things were going.”
Hogan maintained the information he got from the parish was erroneous.
Cochran said he would help work with the CPRA to leverage the money needed to do the entire project. He added, “It’s all good news.”
Councilman Billy Woodruff praised the former Sunset Drainage District board members who maintained the levee for doing a “fantastic” job. Levee maintenance was taken over by the parish.
Burk-Kleinpeter Vice President Sreeni Bollu said the Sunset levee runs through Des Allemands, Bayou Gauche and to the Paradis Canal. Bollu said it was built nearly 100 years ago by the Sunset Drainage Levee District and has been maintained and lifted over time.
Malbrough said the CPRA has dedicated $1.2 million for levee design and/or construction to lift the levee, but is pending an intergovernmental agreement. CPRA has budgeted another $2.3 million for the project in 2021, bringing the project cost to $3.5 million.
The Lafourche Basin Levee District, overseeing the levee, has asked CPRA to commit to the funding this year, which would allow doing the entire project rather than in phases.
Malbrough estimated the project would require 120,000 yards of dirt, which they will seek locally to save on cost.
Pending funding and weather, he estimated dirt moving could begin in December or January and the project done before the next hurricane season.