House passes Graves’ Pontchartrain Basin bill

Published 10:27 am Saturday, February 8, 2020

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WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced a bill by Republican Congressman Garret Graves reauthorizing the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Program. H.R. 4275 is a five-year reauthorization that Graves and lead cosponsor Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond introduced last year, encouraging the continued improving ecological health of Lake Pontchartrain, adjacent lakes and waterways, the basin’s communities and fisheries, and the many abundant resources crucial to South Louisiana and the nation.

The purpose of the program is to restore the ecological health of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin by developing and funding restoration projects as well as related scientific and public education projects.

This map shows the waters which flow from Canada and many states to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.

“More than one-third of Louisianans live in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin – fishing its lakes, boating along its waterways, building businesses and growing their families with its resources – and it’s the setting of a way of life that makes South Louisiana the best place to live in America,” said Graves. “Louisiana sits at the base of the largest drainage system in North America and bears the brunt of flooding, pollution and other influences that the Mississippi River Watershed’s 32 states and 2 Canadian provinces send our way. This bill makes sure we can rise to that challenge and continue the work needed to protect, preserve, and promote the health of Lake Pontchartrain and the success of this nationally important region.”

The Bonnet Carré Spillway is located on the east bank in St. Charles Parish and can divert a portion of the river’s floodwaters via Lake Pontchartrain into the Gulf of Mexico, thus allowing high water to bypass New Orleans and other nearby river communities. In 2019 the Spillway opened twice, once in February when it stayed open for 44 days according to the Army Corps of Engineers. It was opened again in May and remained open for 79 days. Prior to that the last time it was open was in 2016.