Residents of the Nine Mile Point area of Bridge City are concerned about water seeping through the Mississippi River levee and will meet next week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the West Bank’s flood protection authority about the issue.
A quarter-mile stretch of River Road between the Huey P. Long Bridge and Nine Mile Point has been wet from the seepage for the past several years, but recent rain and high river levels have residents especially wary, said Mitchell Mark, who lives nearby.
“This year is so bad. I’ve never seen it like this,” Mark said, noting that river levels could rise again with the arrival of spring.
The Corps, however, said the stretch of levee in Nine Mile Point is not the only area where water comes through the massive earthen levee along the river, and spokesman Ricky Boyett said the agency monitors those sites regularly.
The inspections are done weekly when the water is above 11 feet at the Carrollton gauge in New Orleans and daily when it is above 15 feet. On Wednesday, the river was at 12.6 feet at the Carrollton gauge.
Boyett said the Corps recently sent an engineering team to inspect the Nine Mile Point levee and found there was no clay in the water, which meant the leak was not undermining the levee.
“Though it is seepage, it’s not threatening the integrity of the levee,” he said.
Mark, however, said the water does have silt in it, which he said could be evidence that the seepage is affecting the levee’s foundation.
Mark said the area is 21 feet above sea level, among the highest ground anywhere along the levee in the region. In other words, he said, everything is downhill from Nine Mile Point.
“Worst-case scenario, if we lose the levee here, everything’s going to be wiped out,” he said.
Boyett said there is a portion of the levee in Algiers where water seeps through, and the Corps built a berm there to help.
“When you have an earthen levee and (the water level) gets to a certain point, you’re going to see seepage at different points,” he said.
If the water doesn’t include clay, “that’s OK,” he said. “If it’s taking a part of the levee with it, it’s an issue. We actually don’t have any (areas of seepage) that are threats to the levee.”
Mark said he has been in regular contact about the levee with John Monzon of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority–West, who will attend the April 21 meeting.
Monzon did not return calls for comment.
The meeting is open to concerned residents of the Nine Mile Point area. It will be held at 7 p.m. at the firehouse at 1024 Oak Ave.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.