St. John’s D.C. levee meeting planned Sept. 16

Published 11:45 pm Friday, August 29, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Sept. 16 could prove to be a very important day for St. John the Baptist Parish as Parish President Natalie Robottom will travel to Washington, D.C., to defend and support the recommended plan for a $881 million West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane risk reduction project levee.

Robottom announced at Tuesday night’s St. John Parish Council meeting that she and other parish representatives would make the trip on Sept. 16 to “convince the Army Corps of Engineers this project is ready to move forward.”

Representatives from the Corps, the Pontchartrain Levee District and the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority will travel with Robottom to defend and support the recommended plan.

The meeting will determine whether senior officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorize Corps representatives to go before Congress and ask for $881 million to spend on the levee.

St. John Parish residents have been teased for decades, wondering if the promise of flood protection in the form of a levee would ever become a reality. The sting of unkept promises was felt the harshest in 2012, when over 7,000 homes flooded in St. John Parish with waters brought in from Hurricane Isaac.

Robottom said the levee project is important to residents and business owners throughout the region, as well as the state.

A Corps’ study was first initiated 40 years ago for the levee project, which bobbed, weaved and stalled until Hurricane Isaac pushed it back into to the spotlight.

In November the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed it tentatively selected a plan to build storm protections measures that would keep the waters of Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas from filling the streets of St. John Parish. The selected plan, named Alternative C, would provide risk reduction for approximately 60,000 residents and nearly 17,000 structures in the study area and takes into consideration the concerns of the local residents.

The Alternative C levee is 18 miles in length and would help protect Montz, LaPlace, Reserve and Garyville.

The levee would run between the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Montz and the Hope Canal in Garyville.

St. James Parish would not be protected by the levee, but the plan does include other measures designed to protect the east bank of the parish, including ring levees of populated areas, culvert gates and pumping stations.