For Immediate Release: April 30, 2008
Contact: Chris Macaluso
CPRA Announces Members of Morganza-to-the-Gulf Review Panel
BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has named an eight-member technical review panel that will evaluate and make recommendations concerning a much needed hurricane protection project for Terrebonne and parts of Lafourche Parish.
The Morganza-to-the-Gulf Technical Review Panel is tasked with reviewing the current design and alignment of the 72-mile system of levees, flood gates and locks to ensure it will maximize the reduction of hurricane flood risks while providing environmental benefits.
The eight members come from a variety of backgrounds and share extensive knowledge of coastal geography, geology, ecology, engineering and economics.
The area the Morganza-to-the-Gulf system is designed to protect is home to more than 150,000 Louisiana residents and contains transportation, oil and gas and fisheries industry infrastructure vital to the needs of the country. It includes the city of Houma which currently has no federally-authorized hurricane protection.
The system was originally authorized by Congress in 1992 but construction has been delayed numerous times.
"The Morganza-to-the-Gulf project is essential to providing the kind of protection that is absolutely necessary for the central region of Louisiana's coast," said CPRA Chairman Garret Graves. "The state is committed to moving forward with building this project quickly, efficiently and in a way that will provide the best benefit for the environment and the people living there. This panel will help make that happen."
Graves said the technical review panel will not impede the progress of building the Morganza-to-the-Gulf system. The CPRA is committed to working quickly to build key components, including a lock on the Houma Navigation Canal, while other flood control structures are evaluated by the panel.
The technical review panel will be composed of the following members:
• Dr. Robert Twilley, Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute. Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science. Louisiana State University.
• Dr. Denise Reed, Professor. Department of Earth and Environmental Science. University of New Orleans
• Dr. Charles G. Groat, Director, Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy. Director, Energy and Earth Resources Graduate Program John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Chair. Energy and Mineral Resources Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs Jackson School of Geosciences. The University of Texas at Austin.
• Dr. Gordon Boutwell, P.E., L.S.M., A.S.C.E. Geotechnical Engineer. Ardaman and Associates, Inc. Baton Rouge.
• Larry McKee, P.E. Civil Engineer. Baton Rouge.
• Dr. Tim Ryan, Chancellor University of New Orleans.
• Dr. Shirley Laska, Professor of Environmental Sociology. University of New Orleans.
• Dr. Ehab Meselhe, Director of the Center for Louisiana Inland Water Studies. University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
The first meeting is expected in late May or early June of this year with findings recommendations reported to the CPRA approximately six months later.
"This is a great opportunity to address the issues and examine the Morganza system to ensure it will provide the best protection to the people of the area with minimal impact to the environment," said Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District Director Jerome Zeringue. "We are trying to achieve what is in the best interest of the wetlands in our parish while providing protection to our people. This panel will help us examine the opportunities we have to benefit the ecosystem."
The CPRA committed to forming the panel in September 2007 to help expedite the project's construction.
"The Morganza project includes many features that are also being considered for other protection projects," Reed said. "It's important that the CPRA get some technical input about the relationship between hurricane protection levees and the adjacent wetlands. Many of us on the panel have been studying these processes for decades and it's good that the CPRA is seeking technical advice."
For more information about the Morganza-to-the-Gulf Technical Review Panel or any of the CPRA's coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts, please contact Chris Macaluso at 225-342-3968 or by email at email@example.com.
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