Restore Act may help fund $80M Bayou Chene flood protection project

PATTERSON, La. — St. Mary Parish may be able to receive 2012 Restore Act funding, legislation Congress passed to help the Gulf Coast communities recover from the 2010 BP oil spill, for one of its flood protection projects.

The St. Mary Parish Levee District could possibly get funding for its Bayou Chene flood protection project, levee district commission president Bill Hidalgo said at Thursday’s levee district commission meeting in Patterson.

“CPRA (Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority) identified the Restore Act as being a funding source for the Bayou Chene project and potentially maybe some other projects,” Bill Hidalgo said.

The estimated cost of the Bayou Chene flood protection project is $80 million, and the projected completion date is in 2015.

Projects began to be submitted for Restore Act funding at a special meeting Wednesday in Belle Chasse, Oneil Malbrough Jr., president of Shaw Coastal Inc. in Houma, said. Malbrough attended the meeting, which was one of several meetings held across the Gulf Coast to discuss Restore Act funding. An 11-member Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will come up with a list of projects to be funded by the Restore Act, Malbrough said.

The levee district plans to submit a comment to the restoration council by June 24 expressing the levee district’s interest in getting funding for some of its projects, Matte said.

“Through these hurricane protection and coastal restoration efforts, our objective is to try and make our communities resilient to all of the factors that we have to deal with here on the coast,” Matte said.

From $18 billion to $20 billion could come out of the Restore Act, but that depends if those responsible for the oil spill are found to have been slightly negligent or extremely negligent, Malbrough said.

The Restore Act dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act fine money from the 2010 BP oil spill to affected communities on the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Texas Gulf Coast.

Hidalgo said he and Matte attended the Berwick Town Council meeting Tuesday during which the council discussed restoration of the La. 182 bridge that connects Berwick and Morgan City. “If walking paths in Texas can qualify for the Restore Act, then that evacuation route ought to be able to qualify,” Hidalgo said.

The Bayou Chene flood protection project, which is located just south of the McDermott yard in Amelia, will block off Bayou Chene so that flood waters cannot come up Bayou Chene through Bayou Boeuf to Lake Palourde, Matte said.

Without flood protection, those flood waters can then raise the water levels against the levees in Siracusaville all the way around to Lake End Park, Matte said.

“What we’re trying to do is keep the water levels in the lake lower so that we don’t flood from that side,” Matte said. The Bayou Chene flood protection structure will help prevent flooding in communities in Stephensville, Assumption Parish and Terrebonne Parish when the Atchafalaya River floods, Matte said.

The permit for construction of the Bayou Chene project has been submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The levee district approved an amendment Thursday to the project for modeling in the amount of $154,028.06 relating to the permitting effort.

CB&I Environmental and Infrastructure Company had a pre-application meeting with the corps several weeks ago and received questions about how the structure would affect the area. “A lot of them can only be answered by doing some models of the structure and how it affects the area,” Jeff Peña of CB&I said.

The modeling will include how navigation through the structure impacts boats and how sediment will flow through the structure, Peña said. CB&I is partnering with a couple other companies for the modeling project at a cost of $154,028.06.

In other business, the commission approved a renewal of the Diversified Enviro lease for limestone storage on the Charenton Canal.

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