West Shore Lake Ponchartrain Hurricane Risk Reduction Project
West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Risk Reduction Project
The long awaited $744 million hurricane levee for the River Parishes became fully funded by the federal government in July of 2018. The project has a long history. After more than 40 years of study, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Risk Reduction Project, an 18-mile levee in St. John the Baptist Parish, was authorized by Congress in 2016. However, money was not included in that year’s budget to begin design or construction of the levee. Nor was there money included for so-called "nonstructural features," flood proofing some businesses and either raising or relocating homes that would be in danger of flooding and would not be protected by the proposed levee.
As Chair of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, Rep. Garret Graves has jurisdiction over the Corps of Engineers and has been working with the White House, Army and Corps leadership on appropriations, expediting projects such as West Shore. And after many years of meetings, Graves was able to announce one of the largest flood protection investments in Louisiana history — nearly $3 billion in federal funding for priority flood and hurricane protection projects in south Louisiana.
“After our countless meetings and extensive negotiations with Corps leadership and White House officials, Louisiana will take an historic leap forward to tackle historic flood conditions,” Graves said. “This is one of the largest investments in flood protection in Louisiana history. No more studies. We will be turning dirt and protecting our families.”
This project began because of the major flooding that occurred from Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and was first authorized by Congress in 1971. The project began as a study of the area which includes portions of St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St James Parishes, and is located west of the Bonnet Carre' Spillway between the Mississippi River and Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas. However, due to lack of funding, this project mainly sat dormant
That all changed in 2012 when Hurricane Isaac flooded communities that had been around for 300 years like Laplace and places on the Northshore that had never flooded before.
With this new funding, the Army Corps will pay the full cost up front and the state will have 30 years to pay it’s 35 percent share. Construction should begin next year and it is our hope that construction of the project will take about five or six years to complete.
Once built, this new system of levees, floodwalls and pump stations could potentially keep 120,000 people and more than 7,000 structures from a so-called 100-year storm. It will also mean that the federal government will begin to spend millions of dollars in proactive infrastructure spending as oppose to the absurdity of spending billions of dollars after a disaster in recovery funding.
Rep. Graves who helped negotiate the final funding bill said, “The new levees authorized by the bill mean that our homes will be protected, our businesses safer, and most importantly our families are going to have safe communities to live in. It’s going to help bring down our flood insurance rates and lure economic development and jobs to our region."