CPRA adopts resolution demanding Corps fully examine all outfall canal options

March 18, 2009
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority adopted a resolution at its meeting Wednesday demanding that the Corps of Engineers fully and fairly examines all possible alternatives for protecting and pumping water from New Orleans and Jefferson Parish outfall drainage canals leading to Lake Pontchartrain...

BATON ROUGE, LA, Mar. 18, 2009 -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority adopted a resolution at its meeting Wednesday demanding that the Corps of Engineers fully and fairly examines all possible alternatives for protecting and pumping water from New Orleans and Jefferson Parish outfall drainage canals leading to Lake Pontchartrain.

The 17th Street, London Avenue and Orleans Avenue canals are currently protected and drained by barriers and pumps located on canal mouths at Lake Pontchartrain. Those pumps and barriers were built in an expedited manner and only intended to serve as a temporary solution for five-10 years while permanent pumps and barriers were designed and installed.

The CPRA commended the Corps for building the temporary barriers and installing the pumps quickly in the wake of Katrina.

"The failure of floodwalls along those canals led to catastrophic flooding, damage and loss of life in Orleans Parish and parts of Jefferson Parish during Hurricane Katrina," said CPRA Chairman Garret Graves. "A full examination and the building of the best possible options to protect New Orleans and Jefferson Parish from that happening again is the only acceptable solution."

Corps officials have said they plan to build new pump stations at the mouths of the canals that have to be synchronized to pump water out of canals and into the lake after it has been pumped in by parish drainage pumps. Water must be removed from the canals before levels exceed those deemed safe by the Corps and potentially threaten floodwalls. That plan is known as "Option 1."

Parish drainage and levee board officials and members of the CPRA have asked the Corps to examine two other solutions they believe are better, safer options. Called "Option 2" and "Option 2A," they include the deepening and armoring of the canals and the construction of a single pump station for each, eliminating the need to synchronize interior and exterior drainage pumps. Option 2A also includes a plan to pump some rain water from Jefferson Parish to the Mississippi River, further reducing the strain on the capacity of outfall canals leading to Lake Pontchartrain.

According to the resolution, "the CPRA's position is that before a proper solution for permanent protection features on the outfall canals is chosen for the outfall canals an accurate, peer-reviewed comparison of options be performed."

The resolution further states that the CPRA will not sign any partnership agreements with the Corps regarding the outfall canals until all three options are examined on a "level playing field."

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.

###