For Immediate Release: September 16, 2009
Contact: Chris Macaluso
CPRA Reiterates Demand that Corps Examine all Possible Options for Outfall Canals at Monthly Meeting
BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority again insisted the Army Corps of Engineers examine all possible options to providing flood protection on Orleans and Jefferson Parish outfall canals at its monthly meeting in Baton Rouge.
Ken Brown of BCG Engineering, who is working with the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board and Jefferson Parish, delivered an update to the Authority on the status of construction of the pump stations on the outfall canals in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
The Corps continues to proceed with the construction of what's known as "Option 1," a highly controversial design that involves two sets of pump stations, one that pumps water into the canals then relies on another pump station at the canal mouth to pump water out.
The Corps has been heavily criticized by Authority members, members of Louisiana's Congressional Delegation as well as congressmen from other states and local officials for proceeding with the building of Option 1 because it relies on the same floodwalls that failed during Hurricane Katrina.
The Authority, the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board and the Jefferson Parish Council have all passed resolutions demanding the Corps examine Option 1 and two other plans known as Options 2 and Option 2A to determine which provides the best protection to New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu have both demanded a full examination as well.
Options 2 and 2A both call for making the outfall canals gravity drainage canals with one permanent pump station at the canal mouth. Option 2A also includes a pump station to move water out of Jefferson Parish and into the Mississippi River.
Brown said the Corps continues to insist Option 1 is the only project it can afford and the only one Congress has authorized it to build.
Authority Chairman Garret Graves said Congress has repeatedly said that is not the case.
"Not only has the Louisiana Congressional Delegation disputed the claims by the Corps that the only option it has is to build Option 1 but Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has disputed it as well," Graves said. "The Corps has said for it to completely examine the other options it needs a study that will take three years and cost more than $15 million. Private consultants have told us they can conduct the study in six months for $250,000."
Authority member King Milling said the state has no choice other than to insist the best possible option be built.
"It was not just Hurricane Katrina that flooded 80 percent of New Orleans but engineering failures that were caused by us accepting compromises and not insisting that the best possible protection measures were built," Milling said. "We are not in the position to compromise any longer. We must force this issue to make sure we get the best possible protection."
Graves said he wants the Corps to identify project features common to all three options that can be built while a full examination of the three options is conducted.
Jerome Zeringue, deputy director of the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, followed that discussion with presentations regarding appeals of FEMA flood elevation maps and procedures being developed by OCPR to accept and certify Corps levees as complete and built to acceptable standards.
Authority member and State Senator Blade Morrish, who represents Southwest Louisiana, said Cameron Parish is planning to file suit against FEMA for discrepancies in flood zone maps that have precluded the rebuilding of public facilities in the parish.
"It is very frustrating that FEMA is telling us our entire parish is in a flood zone and is telling us that we will not receive funding to rebuild and repair fire stations and schools meanwhile, 40 miles away in Texas on the Bolivar Peninsula they are rebuilding their communities with FEMA's help," Morrish said. "We are just asking for FEMA to be fair and to treat all coastal communities the same. If they are not willing to do that on their own, Cameron has no choice but to file suit and I hope that this Authority will support that."
Zeringue said the OCPR will continue to work with coastal parishes and geologists at LSU to ensure the flood elevation maps are accurate and using the best available data.
For more information about Louisiana's ongoing coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts, please contact Chris Macaluso at 225-342-3968 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.