Local clay stockpiles not needed says corps

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 4, 2010



NEW ORLEANS – The Army Corps of Engineers announced recently it is abandoning a plan to stockpile clay from the Bonnet Carre Spillway in parts of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes.

The corps, which was anticipating the possibility of high water from the Mississippi River flooding the spillway, had planned to consider three sites to stockpile clay so contractors could continue construction on a hurricane protection levee in St. Charles in an effort to comply with a 2011 completion deadline. The plan was to select one stockpile location out of three vacant lots in the area. The corps was looking at a 42-acre plot on River Road in New Sarpy, along with 35-acre and 65-acre sites on Airline Highway in Reserve near East St. John High School.

“Projected spring floods on the Mississippi River did not materialize, so that eliminated our need to stockpile elsewhere,” said New Orleans Branch Chief Brett Herr. “In this particular instance we were able to stockpile additional material on the berms of the existing levees and in a containment area in the spillway.”

Herr said community feedback regarding the project also played a big role in the decision to cancel the stockpile proposal. Community members in St. Charles vehemently opposed the project during a March 30 public hearing at St. Charles Borromeo Church. Residents and civic leaders voiced concerned about extra truck traffic along already congested River Road in New Sarpy.

The corps is using clay pulled from the spillway to raise the St. Charles hurricane protection levee to a height able to withstand a storm with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. Before the project, the height was designed to withstand a much weaker storm with a 10 percent change of occurring in a given year. Construction remains on track for completion by June 1, 2011.