Corps of Engineers announces $180 million more in Louisiana navigation, flood protection work
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will put $180 million more into navigation and flood-control projects in Louisiana during the upcoming year, the agency announced this week.
The work will include a roughly $16.3 million investment in flood-prevention work around the New Orleans area, about $1.75 million for wastewater pumping stations in Baton Rouge and nearly $100 million for dredging and maintenance of key waterways and ports, according to Louisiana congressional offices.
The funding, announced in the Corps of Engineers’ 2019 budget, is in addition to the more than $1.2 billion the agency put toward Louisiana flood protections earlier this year. Those include full funding for the long-planned Comite River Diversion Canal and the West Shore Hurricane Protection Project around Lake Pontchartrain.
The earlier infusion of federal cash came from a special disaster recovery package passed by Congress aimed at rebuilding hurricane defenses following a trio of destructive storms — Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria — in 2017.
The Corps of Engineers’ announcement this week details how the agency plans to spend hundreds of millions of extra dollars Congress sent the agency during budget negotiations earlier this year. Lawmakers control the funding level for the Corps of Engineers but can’t dictate which projects receive money.
This week’s announcement also included $750,000 for Livingston Parish wastewater improvements and $700,000 for pumping stations in Ascension Parish, according to U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge.
“It has been a record year for flood protection and dredging projects in Louisiana,” Graves said in an email. ‘We will continue to work through our subcommittee chairmanship to make sure these projects deliver on better flood protection as quickly as possible.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson Parish, griped in a press release that the Corps of Engineers left out a number of other projects in southeast Louisiana and pledged to keep pressing federal officials for additional funds.
But Scalise said the funding for navigation projects — including $4 million for work on the Houma Navigation Canal, $75 million for work along the Mississippi River and $10 million for work on the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles — would make “major improvements.”
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, highlighted the $16.3 million for work on the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish flood protection system. The city has struggled with repeated flooding and overwhelmed pumps.