Protecting People, Property and Our Way of Life
NLLD approves new tax, discusses updates on continuing levee projects
By: Heather Chiasson, The Lafourche Gazette
June 19, 2015
Last month, voters within the North Lafourche, Conservation Levee & Drainage District (NLLD) approved a quarter-cent sales tax solely dedicated to building critical levees and other priority flood protection projects from the northern end of the parish to the Intracoastal Waterway in Larose.
The NLLD Board gave official approval to the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting providing for the levy tax within the District to officially go into effect on July 1.
The sales tax is estimated to generate approximately $2.2 million per year dedicated to construction and maintenance, and this sales tax revenue will also be leveraged to attract more state and federal money for the local levee projects.
“The NLLD has developed a plan of priority levee, flood protection and drainage improvement projects that benefit residents throughout the District and will achieve a higher level of protection that our communities deserve. Revenue from the sales tax will now allow the NLLD to more quickly complete the levees and pump stations in this plan and provide residents with additional levee protection and better drainage sooner than it could have with previous funding alone,” said Dwayne Bourgeois, NLLD Executive Director.
At Tuesday’s meeting, The NLLD also approved an interim vice-president, Daniel Clement. His nomination and approval was given as a result of the previous vice-president, George Broussard, Sr., resigning from the board in May.
The vice-presidency along with other office positions will be up for re-election in October. Levee District board members serve at the pleasure of the seated Governor. Commissioners are nominated by the legislators, parish president and Thibodaux and Lockport mayors, then are appointed by the Governor from the list of nominations.
The Governor appoints a person to serve on the board during his term. When a new governor is elected, he can choose to keep the same people if they are re-nominated by the Parish leaders.
Reports were given during the meeting regarding the Lockport to Larose project area.
“We have been working for quite some time on a project where we’re re-sectioning a levee from Parr Pump Station working towards the Larose Pump Station. We have been working this project through a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Parish in which we supply major equipment, engineering and field support and the Parish provides additional equipment, operators and fuel,” said Bourgeois.
This project, from the Parr Pump Station to Valentine Bridge area is nearly completed.
Neil Angelette, of Angelette Picciola, LLC, has been meeting with several land owners and getting right-of-way paperwork completed for approval of the Lockport-Larose Valentine Area “Reach C” Levee project which includes “Reaches C4, C5, & D1”.
“The NLLD is trying to continue our alignment along the existing levee going south but what we found is that the engineers had grave concerns because of the lack of strength of the soil in that area. We realized we would have to shift the alignment so we had to get a new, modified permit and needed right of ways from property owners in that area (From Philip Plaisance to behind North Bayou Estates). Neil is working on getting right of ways from landowners living between the Philip Plaisance property to the Edgar Guidry Pump Station so we can proceed,” said Bourgeois.
Neil Angelette also reported on an interim repair emergency project, which is a little further south (in Reach D1). The old levee is still there but parts of that levee sloughed off into the reservoir canal and are starting to fail.
The NLLD and Angelette as consulting engineers have found that best emergency repair that can be done is to take material donated from a land owner and get a contractor to put these materials into the borrow canal and backfill it to stabilize the levee section in that area before storm season is in full effect.
The NLLD has the right of ways to do the emergency repairs and is undergoing the project at this time.
The Lockport to Larose East levee, emergency authorization project is running according to plan at this point.
The project as stabilized the first 1500 feet under an Emergency Authorization from the Corps; but, Bourgeois states [it] “will take the long road” to complete the rest of the 5500 feet of this project.
At the end of Hamilton Street on LA Hwy. 308 is the T-Bois Pump Station. Adjacent to that station was once a crawfish pond (approximately 1500 feet) that no longer exists. The removal of the pond has caused the levee to slough and fail in some areas near this pump station.
“It’s good for the levee that the crawfish pond is no longer there but there are some concerns that now need to be addressed. Fortunately, the land owner gave us the right of way to go in and make repairs to that levee,” said Bourgeois.
The NLLD was only able to do 1500 feet of repairs to the total 5500 feet of levee that is in need of repairs because it was limited by the Corps of Engineers’ emergency authorization approval.
“The Corps really limited us in what we could do. So we got equipment and a contractor and worked on first 1500 feet but the entire project is slow going because of the Corps’ requirements. We went according to what we could do so now the first 1500 feet pretty much done,” said Bourgeois.
To complete the entire 5500-foot stretch, the NLLD will have to go through a full permit process with Corps and that process will take a bit longer.
The Mathews Canal project and Clotilda Pump Station levee work is going as planned with expected approval from Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources; but, is also currently waiting on the Corps of Engineers approval.
In other NLLD news:
In the Thibodaux – West project area, St. Louis Canal improvements will begin the middle of next month around July 5th. Acadia Woods drainage project bid proposals will be solicited next week in hopes of beginning work in early July.
The St. Charles By-Pass Backwater flood protection permit has been submitted.
Leonard Chauvin, an engineer from LCI briefed the board on issues pertaining to the Thibodaux, Audubon Avenue drainage improvements, a project that recently replaced mismatched culverts and catch basins.
“We expected to encounter some conflicts with some gas lines right at a tie in point at Menard Street, which we required some extra work but we did not and are recommending an adjustment,” Chauvin said.
The project also encountered other issues that were an addition; but in total this change order brings the cost of the project down by about $8,000 to $122,954.89.
The 80 Arpent Canal clearing, Caldwell to Laurel Valley project should be advertised for bidding by the end of this month.
Inspection on the Chackbay South levee heading towards Grand Bayou has sloughing off making the levee too steep as a result from pumping too frequently and too deep. All levees in this area are in need of maintenance.
NLLD is in process of completing some levee rehabs. There is a continued discussion about spraying versus dredging and what would be best for the levees and most cost efficient.
A full list of pump stations in Lafourche Parish can be seen on an interactive map on the Lafourche Parish Government’s website, www.lafourchegov.org/government/facilities-map. Additional information on the NLLD can be found on their website www.NorthLafourcheLevee.com.