Project attempts to prevent flooding in Vacherie

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2000

L’Observateur / October 4, 2000

SOUTH VACHERIE – The Vacherie Canal Backwater Project is for the construction of levees and a tainter gate in the Vacherie Canal in an effort to prevent backwater flooding. The tainter gate will allow water, wildlife andboat traffic to move through the structure during normal tides and weather conditions when the gate is open. During high tide and when backwaterflooding threatens the South Vacherie community, the gate will be closed and pumps will be utilized to handle the rainfall within the projected area. ParishPresident Dale Hymel stated, “This flood protection project represents the greatest level of protection that can be provided that is cost effective and also creates the least impact on wildlife and the environment.”The control structure was permitted through the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Section 10 and 404 permits from the New Orleans Corps of Engineers on Feb. 10, 2000. The low bid for the construction was$1,142,000 by Cajun Constructors Inc. of Baton Rouge. Partial funds in theamount of $685,580 is being provided through the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development State wide Flood Control Program.

The contract time is 260 working days or about one year with completion currently scheduled for September 2001. The reinforced concrete floodgatestructure with 20-inch pumps will include a 15-foot wide radial gate which will be closed when water levels reach 2.5 feet above normal. The base floodelevation for South Vacherie is 5 feet above the canal’s elevation.

During construction, a temporary bypass channel will be dug to allow for normal channel flow. The actual structure will be built inside of a steel sheetpile cofferdam. The engineers who designed the project are T. Baker Smithand Son Inc of Houma.

The levee work associated with the project is being completed by the St. James Parish Council employees. That phase of the project is being fundedthrough a $509,865 grant from the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Approximately 85 percent of all levee work required is already completed with the remaining 15 percent to be completed before the end of this year.

“Part of the success of this project was the willingness of the property owners whose land was part of out required levee system to sign right-of- way across their property. Certainly, these families and individuals haveprovided a tremendous service to this community though their unselfish acts of donations and grants of permanent rights-of-way to the parish council,” said Hymel.

Once this project is completed, the parish council hopes to apply for more funding for other areas of the parish that are subjected to similar types of flooding problems.

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