Parish notes progress on levee system

By:  Chris LeBlanc,

May 14, 2015


Terrebonne Parish officials praised the progress being made on the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee system.

"It's important that the public knows why we're continuing to fight for money from our state and federal delegation in the hope that they can continue to build the Morganza-to-the-Gulf," Councilman John Navy said during the Parish Council's Wednesday meeting.

In the last few years, Navy said, the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District, has overseen about $300 million in hurricane protection projects completed or under construction using local and state money.

The state budget includes roughly $17 million in flood and hurricane mitigation money for a Houma Navigation Canal lock complex, which will tie into the Morganza system that's designed to protect Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

Levee district officials and council members were quick to credit local taxpayers who agreed to pay for much of the project.

"There's nothing in particular that any one of us have done. It's a big effort by everybody and especially Terrebonne Parish," said Levee District Board President Anthony Alford. "What has brought us all together has been the tax that the parish has put on themselves."

In 2001 Terrebonne voters passed a quarter-cent sales tax to be routed to Morganza and other storm-protection projects. In 2012, voters approved an additional half-cent sales tax to be used exclusively for Morganza.

"It wasn't hard to go out there and fight for a half-cent sales tax," Councilman Dirk Guidry said. "Without the trust of the citizens in the levee district, this tax would have never passed. They've gone down there and they've seen what y'all are doing and what y'all are producing."

The two taxes generate roughly $18 million annually.

Alford said the relationship between the parish, levee district and local state delegation, specifically Rep. Gordon Dove, R-Houma, have led to the progress residents see.

Levee Board Executive Director Reggie Dupre said Alford began lobbying for local Morganza money several years ago at the advice of South Lafourche Levee District General Manager Windell Curole.

"At that time Tony and the board started a very bold and aggressive move to start to build a federal system with no federal money. The first priority was connecting the five bayous of Terrebonne Parish along the federal alignment between Pointe-aux-Chenes and Bayou Dularge," Dupre said. "This month, May 2015, we are taking bids on Reach E, which the parish is helping fund."

Terrebonne will route $14 million in federal disaster recovery money to the $21 million Reach E project. This will be the first significant federal expenditure on Morganza.

"That is the last big gap to connect the five bayous together. We expect that by 2017 we will meet that first goal, 35 or 40 miles of levee, along this critical path," Dupre said.

Dupre said it used to take half an hour to see the levee projects being built in the parish. But now it takes half a day or more to go from Pointe-aux-Chenes to Bayou Dularge to view the 12 or so projects under construction.

The South Lafourche Levee District also recently received $12 million from the state to build Reaches K and L near Cut Off.


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