BP money may help Bayou Chene project

St. Mary Parish Levee District Executive Director Tim Matte

By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

Part of the $68 million in BP oil spill settlement money announced Thursday will go toward a project to increase Atchafalaya River flow through Terrebonne Parish, which could have an impact on the Bayou Chene Flood Control Project, St. Mary Parish Levee District Executive Director Tim Matte said.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Thursday that $68 million will come through the foundation as part of the BP oil spill settlement. (See related story on Page 9.)
The money will advance planning and engineering on barrier island and river diversion projects, Matte said. One of those projects is to increase Atchafalaya River flow through Terrebonne Parish.
In meetings with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Matte expressed to officials that if more water is sent to Terrebonne Parish through the Intracoastal Waterway, the water will travel down Bayou Chene unless there is a structure to prevent that flow, he said.
Whatever diversion project is done will likely affect the Bayou Chene project and may facilitate the Bayou Chene project, Matte said. The Bayou Chene Flood Control Project, which is located just south of the McDermott yard in Amelia, is estimated to cost $80 million and will include a permanent structure that will block Bayou Chene so that flood waters cannot come up Bayou Chene through Bayou Boeuf to Lake Palourde.
Levee District Commission President Bill Hidalgo said the district needs to make sure any diversions are not detrimental to navigation.
Jeff Peña of CB&I infrastructure company said all field data for the Bayou Chene Flood Control Project is complete, and engineers are working with modelers for the project. Engineering consultants will go over modeling results and have requested a meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Matte presented the district’s proposed 2013 amended budget and proposed 2014 budget. The district expects to spend nearly $1 million more than its revenues in 2014, mostly due to the Bayou Chene project. However, funds are available in the levee district’s fund balance, Matte said.
Matte projects a $3.5 million fund balance at the end of 2014, he said. The Terrebonne Parish Conservation and Levee District’s share of the study for the Bayou Chene project and $600,000 in estimated revenue from the Economic Development Administration on the project are included in the budget, Matte said.
The levee district has sufficient revenue to provide for its everyday activities, Matte said. The budget also has contingencies for emergencies and funding for the Franklin Canal Pump Station project. The pump station project will go out for bid Nov. 25.
The budget will go through a public hearing at the levee district’s December meeting.
Peña said the Franklin Canal Flood Control Project was completed Nov. 4. There will be a dedication for the Philip Luke Memorial Franklin Canal at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
The Franklin Canal Flood Control Project consisted of installing a barge with a floodgate that will be sunk when flood protection is needed on the Franklin Canal, Matte said. The gate will stay open 95 percent of the time. If a storm or high water event occurs and protection is deemed necessary, then the gate will be closed and the barge sunk,
The Corps of Engineers’ Levee System Evaluation Report for the Wax Lake East levees is expected to be complete by Jan. 30, Matte said.
Matte told the corps it is the levee district’s intention to solve the deficiencies prior to the final report being issued. Reid Miller of Miller Engineers is doing work on the Wax Lake East levees to determine how much the levees would need to be raised to provide adequate flood protection.

In other business,
—Matte announced that levee district will do levee inspections on Dec. 11 and 12.
—Matte presented a draft of the rules and regulations for parish’s levees. Matte proposed having a public hearing in January to discuss the rules, many of which are already federal and state laws.
—The commission approved amending the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority contract to include the Franklin Canal Pump Station funding.
—The commission approved a resolution to extend Miller Engineers’ contract.
—The commission authorized an additional signatory on the district’s checking account.
—The commission approved the new St. Mary Parish Levee District emblem.

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