Dredging material will not be used for protection levee
Sep 28, 2013 | 4587 views | 0 0 comments | 83 83 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It does not look like Vermilion Parish will ever get a protection levee created by the dredging of the Intracoastal Canal by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. What it looks like the parish will get, however, is 971 new acres of marshland.

Ten years ago there was hope Vermilion Parish was going to get some kind of protection levee along the Intracoastal Canal if and when the U.S. Corps of Engineers dredged the canal to make a deeper channel for the Port of Iberia.

The deepening of the channel request was going to be from the Port of Iberia, on the Intracoastal Canal (which runs through Vermilion Parish) then south on Freshwater City Canal that connects with the Gulf of Mexico.

Parish officials 10 years ago decided the parish should benefit from the dredging by having the Corps of Engineers take the spoil material removed from the dredging and place it along the south end of the Intracoastal Canal, creating a five to eight foot dirt levee.

This was all decided long before hurricanes Rita and Ike impacted the parish with its storm surges.

The parish officials demanded that the bill sent to Washington D.C. read that, “Spoil be placed along the banks of the Intracoastal Canal to create a levee.” The bill passed and a certain amount of money was approved to fund the project.

The dredging project never got off the ground and died in Washington D.C. because of cost. The Corps budgeted $130 million but the project was going to cost over $200 million.

Michael Hare, the deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, is in Vermilion Parish this week to try to give the dredging of the Intracoastal Canal new life.

Hare attended the Harbor and Terminal meeting last week to present the commissioners an idea that could bring back to life the dredging project. He explained to the commissioners that if parish officials agree to remove the sentence about using the spoil from the dredging to create a levee and replace it with one using the spoil to create new marshland, that would save the project millions of dollars. Letting the Corps of Engineers spread the spoil throughout the marsh could save $70 million, which would put the project within the $130 million approved by Congress, he explained.

He also added that the original plan of using the spoil for a protection levee gave a “false sense of protection” because the spoil along the banks of the Intracoastal Canal would eventually wash back into the canal.

Hare explained to the commissioners that the Corps of Engineers would also dredge the entrance to the bypass channel next to the lock. The dredging would be up to 20-feet deep.

“I want to try and help Vermilion Parish get something out of the AgMat Channel,” Hare told the Commissioners. “I am asking you for a letter of support. By doing nothing, there is no chance to move forward.”

The commissioners agreed to support Hare’s request of removing the wording in the bill and put spoil to be used to create marshland and not a protection levee.

“Bud” Zaunbrecher of the Harbor and Terminal said, “Half of something is better than nothing.”

Hare is expected to visit the police jury and ask for its support to change the wording.
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