A bill to improve levee protection during periods of high water won House approval on Monday.

The vote was 80-12. The legislation faces action in the Senate.

The bill would prohibit barges or other watercraft from being tied or moored within 180 feet of a levee.

Violators would face fines of up to $10,000, up from $100 now.

“We are talking about people who take their barges and put them right up against the levee,” said the bill sponsor, state Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Waggaman.

State Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans and a backer of the bill, said last week an operator placed a barge closer than 180 feet to a levee in his area, then refused repeated requests to move it.

Arnold said the barge was only moved after intervention by the U. S. Coast Guard.

The measure is House Bill 640.