St. Charles to use FEMA grants for drainage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 29, 2010



HAHNVILLE – A series of FEMA grants totaling $15.4 million will help St. Charles Parish upgrade and improve pump stations and culverts in Norco, Destrehan, New Sarpy, St. Rose, Boutte, Luling and Bayou Gauche, according to a release from the parish.

Renee Allemand Simpson, spokesperson for St. Charles Parish, said the FEMA money will help the parish pay for improvements to four pump stations across the parish, along with three culvert replacements under three major roads. She said the grants are part of FEMA’s hazard mitigation program to prevent potential flood damage to parish homes and businesses.

According to the release, the parish is receiving more than $8.1 million for automatic bar screen cleaners for the Dianne Place, Engineers Canal, Eighty Arpent and New Sarpy pump stations. Simpson said the bar screen cleaners remove debris that can get trapped in front of the screens. The cleaners also prevent debris from clogging the pump’s intake, causing them to cycle on and off. She said public works employees must clear stations without the automatic cleaners, which can be dangerous during a thunderstorm.

In addition to a bar screen cleaner, Simpson said the Eighty Arpent station is also receiving two additional pumps to increase capacity. She said the new 48-inch pumps will increase capacity at the 20-year-old station from 101,000 gallons per minute to 440,000 gallons per minute. The increased capacity is needed because of increased development in the Luling area between River Road and U.S. 90, which is served by the station. The project has a price tag of about $2.9 million.

The parish is also receiving more than $4.3 million to replace culverts in Destrehan, Luling and Bayou Gauche to increase drainage flow and prevent repeated flooding in those areas.

“We’re excited to get started on these much-needed projects, and I’d like to publically thank all who worked on this for their tenacity over a two-year period,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said in the release. “Our success is a direct result of a significant amount of teamwork amongst parish employees.”

Simpson said the grant money covers construction costs for the projects. The parish foots the bill for design and engineering on the projects.

According to the release, the applications were a result of a $74 million statewide competitive projects allocation announced in May 2008 by the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Overall, the parish decided to take an “aggressive approach” to the process by submitting 21 grant applications for almost $26 million in “critical” infrastructure, according to the release.

“We were faced with having to fund multiple projects with a limited supply of funding,” said St. Charles Grants Officer Holly Fonseca. “The effort required many long hours over a six-week period and an ‘all hands on deck’ approach by the parish staff.”

Simpson said the parish in 2009 was awarded $1.4 million for bar screen cleaners at the Lakewood pump station, $3 million to elevate 16 homes that suffered repeated flooding and $25,000 to install hurricane shutters on windows at the parish’s two water treatment plants.

The projects should go out for bid by the end of 2010, according to the release from St. Charles Parish.