Morganza levee project gets promising signs of progress


April 29, 2014


After decades of waiting, local advocates of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee project could be on the verge of seeing their frustration turn to satisfaction.

Anyone who has watched the forward-and-back progression of Morganza, through various stages of bureaucracy in Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will know better than to get his or her hopes up too soon, but there are some promising signs.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s office predicted earlier this week that the Morganza project will be included in the water resources bill being hashed out by a congressional conference committee.

Just last year, the project was close to congressional approval. It received an OK from the Senate, but the House passed a version of the water bill that did not include the local project.

The conference committee is in charge of hashing out the differences between the two versions.

Since Vitter, R-La., is a member of the conference committee, he is in a good position to gauge its chances of inclusion. If his office says it will be in it, that is certainly a good sign.

Another good sign is that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has succeeded in getting the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to sign off on Morganza. Landrieu’s office said that committee had never held a hearing on Morganza, and that was one of the reasons it was left out of the House bill.

Between the two Louisiana senators’ actions, it looks like Morganza might be close to congressional approval.

Even that approval, though, is no guarantee that the full version of the project will get the necessary money to be constructed. In fact, it has gotten congressional approval before. Unfortunately, so much time passed after its approval that the corps decided its estimated price tag was no longer valid, and it was sent back for further congressional consideration.

The conference committee can significantly boost its chances. The question of paying for the $10 billion project will remain, but it will take a step in the right direction.

In the meantime, local levee officials and taxpayers have done what they could to put a smaller version of the project into action. That work continues, and it is already offering some protection for parts of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

Without federal assistance, there will still be progress. But it will not be as swift or as thorough as it would be with the necessary federal investment.

The actions of our senators will not equate to instant protection for the people and businesses who are so vulnerable to future storms, but it does continue the tough job of getting it done.

Editorials represent the opinions of the newspaper, not of any individual.


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