I am compelled to respond to your misleading article regarding levee lifts on Monday, which omitted the entire levee system on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish and Algiers.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West (SLFPA-W) is the flood protection entity, governing and taxing authority for levee protection of West Jefferson and Algiers. It was created as a separate levee authority at the same time as the East Bank Flood Authority.
Since 2006, all of the authority’s 80 miles of levees, flood gates and flood walls (including 47 miles that are part of the hurricane and storm damage reduction system and 33 miles of Mississippi River levees and flood walls) have been improved to meet the 100-year design storm or the 1 percent storm event. Last year, SLFPA-W also assumed responsibility for the West Closure Complex (WCC), including the largest sector gate in North America, the largest pump station in the world and crucial T-walls.
News media outlets that cover our authority’s board and committee meetings are aware of our public discussions of the need for levee lifts for the past year. Your article makes it appear that the West Bank has no sinking issues, leaving the impression that the West Bank has no need for lifts, when the fact is some of the areas most in need are on the West Bank. This is largely due to vast portions of the West Bank’s system being new, where subsidence happens faster. You also made no reference to SLFPA-W, a disservice that can only be attributed to The Advocate’s lack of coverage of West Bank hurricane protection.
The West Bank and Vicinity Projects (WBV) are now complete and have been turned over to the West Bank Levee Authority for Operation, Maintenance, Replacement, Repair and Rehabilitation (OMRR&R). Most of the earthen sections on the West Bank will require lifts prior to armoring. In order to maintain the 10-year certification that FEMA granted in 2014, SLFPA-W will perform maintenance lifts in 2015 and 2016 at an estimated cost of $26 million. The next round of lifts will occur approximately after 2023. It is estimated that the cash on hand required will be $34.8 million ($5.5M for WCC and $29.3M for lifts and armoring). Based on current obligations, the authority will begin to run a deficit by 2016.
SLFPA-W’s proposition to the voters in November will be to fund the hurricane protection system on the West Bank for the next 30 years, including levee lifts.
Your reporters would do well to accept our continued invitations to cover important issues facing this authority.
Susan H. Maclay
president, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West