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The Daily Review/Bill Decker
St. Mary Levee District President Bill Hidalgo, left, speaks at Thursday's board meeting. Shown at right is board member Norris Crappell.

Levee District focuses on one plan for Lakeside

The St. Mary Parish Levee District has settled on a plan for a levee in front of Morgan City’s Lakeside Subdivision. Soon, Lakeside residents will get their say about it.
“We think we have a plan now,” President Bill Hidalgo said at the board’s regular meeting Thursday. “We’re going to refine that plan and take it back to the people.”
St. Mary Parish Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 2 and the Levee District are working together to improve the levee system that rings Morgan City. The improvements are designed to protect the city not just from flooding but from the impact of stricter federal flood insurance requirements and sharply higher premiums.
Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 2 has been in charge of the work except for the 1,800-foot stretch in front of Lakeside, which is the responsibility of the Levee District.
That portion of the work is complicated by the fact that the work there will be new, rather than improving existing levees, and Lake Palourde access could be affected.
The district staff has been studying five different options.
“None of them became what I would call a silver bullet,” Executive Director Tim Matte told the board.
The plan on which the district has settled calls for a wall in front of the subdivision itself and a 4- to 6-foot wave-break wall.
The work is expected to cost about $30 million. Matte said none of the relevant agencies, the drainage and levee districts and the Morgan City government, have that much money to spend for the work. So the Levee District will be looking for a funding source, starting with a presentation to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Rest-oration Authority.
The Lakeside levee plan can be presented to subdivision residents within 45 days with a report back to the Levee District board within 60 days, Matte said.
District No. 2 Director Julana Senette thanked the board for working with the drainage district on the project.
And Morgan City Councilman Lou Tamporello, who represents Lakeside, also expressed thanks.
“It’s good that we’ve got it to this point,” Tamporello said.
Also Thursday, the board approved a resolution proposed by member Will Terry to support restoration of the 13-mile reef that once stretched from Marsh Island to the Burns Point and Marone Point area.
Restoration of the Rabbit Island Reef Chain, an oyster reef from which shell has been harvested for road work, is being proposed for inclusion in the CPRA’s 2023 master plan.
The reef would reduce storm surge coming into East Cote Blanche Bay from the Gulf, allowing more water to drain through Wax Lake Outlet and the Atchafalaya River and cut down on flooding in St. Mary.
The board also heard that bids are about to go out on the flood wall portion of the $80 million Bayou Chene flood control project.
And the board approved engineering work on a portion of the Yokeley Levee extension in the area near Metal Shark northwest of Franklin.
The U.S. Army Corps of engineers is dealing with a slide along a portion of the Atchafalaya levee near Charenton by covering the affected area with plastic sheeting and placing sandbags.
The Corps is using the sheeting to protect the slide area from rain that could make it worse. The Corps wants to wait until the river is at a lower level before making a permanent fix, Matte said.
The Corps has said the slide doesn’t compromise the integrity of the levee.

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