Corps, state sign agreement for drainage improvements in southeast Louisiana

Jan. 22, 2009
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) to put into place an overarching cost-sharing agreement for the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Damage Reduction Project (SELA). The agreement will pave the way for construction of $1.3 billion of SELA features in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes...

NEW ORLEANS, LA, Jan. 16, 2009 -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) to put into place an overarching cost-sharing agreement for the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Damage Reduction Project (SELA). The agreement will pave the way for construction of $1.3 billion of SELA features in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.

Specific features of the SELA project include drainage canal improvements and construction of new drainage canals, replacement of bridges, provision of backup power at existing pump stations, and construction of new pump stations, and associated intake and discharge works. Work conducted under the SELA project supports the parishes' master drainage plans, and generally provides flood protection on a level associated with a 10-year rainfall event, while also reducing damages from larger events. SELA was initially authorized in 1996.

The agreement was signed by CPRA Chairman Garret Graves and the Honorable John Paul Woodley, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

The CPRA reached cooperative endeavor agreements with both the Sewage and Water Board of New Orleans and the Jefferson Parish Council to serve as the single non-federal sponsor for the SELA project with the Corps.

"The CPRA promised to make this agreement a reality in order to ensure that much needed drainage improvements in the New Orleans area are made and we delivered on that promise," Graves said. "This funding is an enormous boost to the flood fighting efforts of the parishes, the state and the Corps."

Also signed during today's ceremony were agreements that would give the State of Louisiana 30 years to repay their share of the $14.3 billion Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) construction. The non-federal share is approximately $1.5 billion.

"With these agreements signed today, all the financing is in place to ensure completion of the 100-year level of risk reduction in the greater New Orleans area in 2011," said Secretary Woodley. "While most Corps Civil Works projects are cost-shared, because of the special circumstances facing Louisiana after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, we were able to take advantage of a rarely-used law that allows the United States to pay the full cost up front, giving the state 30 years to repay their share."

Other dignitaries at today's ceremony included Mayor C. Ray Nagin of the City of New Orleans; Orleans Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director Marcia St. Martin; and members of the Orleans and Jefferson Parish Councils. The ceremony was held at Sewerage & Water Board Pump Station #6, which had just been rededicated as the G. Joseph Sullivan Pump Station.

"It's a great day of celebration," said Karen Durham-Aguilera, P.E., SES, director of the Corps' Task Force Hope. "We cannot meet our goal alone and this is an excellent example of federal, state and local entities partnering for success. The year of 2009 will see a dramatic increase in construction projects across the hurricane system, including SELA projects. We are working for the people of greater New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana together everyday."

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.

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