The Army Corps of Engineers will hold two virtual town hall meetings next week to gather feedback on a revised environmental effects study of the construction of the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee.
The study, republished on April 15 to correct a description of the permit process for the proposed diversion of the Mississippi River to the Maurepas Swamp, outlines how the Corps will use the diversion to mitigate environmental damage caused by construction of the levee.
The meetings will take place on May 11 at 6 p.m. and May 12 at 10 a.m.
The diversion, which will move 2,000 cubic feet per second of fresh water from the river to the marsh, will improve wetlands in the same area where they will be destroyed by the $1.2 billion levee. The levee is already under construction along the edges of the marsh on the east side of the Mississippi River in the parishes of St. Charles, St. John, and St. James.
The Corps initially rejected the Maurepas diversion because its estimated cost of $200 million was far greater than the amount of mitigation needed for the levee. But he reconsidered after state officials made it clear they only planned to count a portion of the cost of the diversion into the local share of levee construction costs. State officials say that part is not expected to exceed $120 million.
The actual construction costs of the diversion will be paid for by money the state will receive from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill environmental restoration program.
The new West Rim seawall is intended to protect river parishes from storm surges caused by hurricanes. It will also be raised over the next 50 years to cope with future sea level rise, officials said.
Meetings will be conducted via WebEx and simulcast on the district network Facebook page.
Individuals can also dial these toll-free numbers to access each meeting:
Wednesday, May 11, at 6 p.m., 1 844 800-2712, session number 2762 265 1486.
Thursday, May 12, at 10 a.m., 1 844 800-2712, session number 2760 486 9415
Public comments or requests for reprints of the revised environmental document may be submitted to Landon Parr, US Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Planning Branch, Regional Planning and Environmental Division South, CEMVN-PDC-C, 7400 Leake Ave., New Orleans, 70118 .
Comments may also be submitted via email to [email protected].
The public comment period ends on May 31.
This work is supported by a grant funded by the Walton Family Foundation and administered by the Society of Environmental Journalists.