Livingston Parish officials hope to use more than half a million dollars in coastal restoration funds to clean out a slew of waterways, repair a public boat launch and buy two sandbagging machines.
The money flows from a portion of Clean Water Act penalties against BP stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The bulk of those penalties goes through the five funding mechanisms of the RESTORE Act, a 2012 federal law that directs the money to the five Gulf States affected by the oil spill.
Livingston Parish is in line to receive $561,895 of that funding, which can be used for flood protection, restoration of natural resources and infrastructure projects benefitting the economy or ecological resources, among other things.
This is a separate pot of money from the $228,000 settlement for lost sales tax revenue the parish also will receive as a result of the oil spill. Parish officials have not yet decided what to do with those funds, which are less restricted.
The parish has put its plan for the restoration money up for a second public comment period, after the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which administers the funds, said Livingston had not distributed the plan widely enough earlier this year, said Heather Crain, the parish’s grant coordinator.
Comments on the plan will be accepted through Oct. 30.
Parish President Layton Ricks said the money will go a long way toward helping residents, particularly in the more flood prone southern part of the parish.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to get these restoration dollars and do projects we think will be very beneficial to the parish,” Ricks said.
According to the plan, $401,895 would go toward removing vegetative debris and large appliances from 13 water bodies in the parish, including the Amite, Tickfaw, Natalbany and Blind rivers and Lake Maurepas.
The parish estimates about 10,000 cubic yards of debris and a variety of other materials need to be removed from 95 miles of waterway.
“The debris poses a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of the community and to the waterway users, is of recent origin, and is considered an urgent need to protect the public,” the parish states in its plan narrative.
Removal of the debris also would help restore the natural flow capacity and direction of the waterways and would aid in flood protection, the narrative continues.
“Because of the unplanned for budget issues related to the BP oil spill and many storms, Livingston Parish has not been able to finance this debris clean-up activity on its own,” the narrative states.
Another $100,000 would be spent renovating a public boat launch off La. 22 near Springfield, where the Blood and Tickfaw rivers merge. The popular launch is “one of only a few public boat launches within Livingston Parish that allows quick access to the brackish estuaries of Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain,” according to the plan narrative.
An accompanying report from Forte & Tablada engineers indicates that the bank on the southwest side of the boat launch is eroding at a rate of about one foot per year, potentially endangering the foundation of a nearby business, Tickfaw Boopalu’s Bar.
The engineers estimated the erosion would reach the building’s foundation within 10 years, causing about $65,000 in damages to the boardwalk, fence, utilities, foundation and business.
The parish’s remaining $60,000 in restoration funds would be used to buy one or two sandbagging machines capable of filling 1,600 bags per hour, to help residents protect their properties from potential floods, the plan states.
The machines would be housed at the parish’s Department of Public Works facility in Livingston and moved to areas needing help during emergencies.
“These machines will greatly benefit the parish during hurricane and flooding events by helping residents efficiently attain needed sand bags and freeing up fire fighters who usually have to manually fill sand bags,” the plan narrative states.
The plan will be available for review through Oct. 30 on the parish government’s website, livingstonparishla.gov, and at the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, 20355 Government Blvd., second floor, Suite D, in Livingston.
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