With 57 miles of coastline, St. Tammany Parish government finds itself on the front line when it comes to future decisions regarding environmental sustainability and flood protection.
Finding the balance between the two is what has now led to a partnership between the parish and LA SAFE, a group organized by the Louisiana Office of Community Development that seeks to work with parishes in southeast Louisiana to mitigate risk on flood projects by providing community input to local government on their works.
The group recently wrapped up parishwide meetings throughout southeast Louisiana, including one in St. Tammany at Lakeshore High School on July 27.
At those meetings, the group presented the public with drafts of future strategies for coastal areas, then took feedback on the potential plans.
LA SAFE’s stated goal is to work with each of the six parishes that it’s partnering with to strategize on at least one project, program or policy that will then be funded by LA SAFE through the Foundation for Louisiana’s Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund.
Though St. Tammany Parish is not yet in the phase of declaring exactly what project it will work with LA SAFE on, Gina Campo, parish chief administrative officer, said there are big plans for coastal protection. She said she hopes LA SAFE will be a part of those plans.
According to Campo, the parish is now advertising for a consulting team to create a “coastal reconnaissance plan” for St. Tammany that evaluates projects that have been proposed over the years for its coastal areas. The team will then come back to parish government and present the plans that are the most feasible and cost-effective.
“This goes hand-in-hand with what LA SAFE is doing,” Campo said. “We’re going to have the science part of it and then LA SAFE will have the ‘OK, how does that mesh with the goals of the community?’ and hopefully that information can help inform the benefit-cost analysis that goes into prioritizing these projects.”
Campo said the timing of LA SAFE’s visit couldn’t have been much better, and she said the parish already has informed the group that it hopes to partner as the project advances.
After the advertisement is made, the parish will select which consulting firm gets the job of evaluating the projects.
The firm will look at projects encompassing the entirety of St. Tammany’s coastal areas, Campo said, and will ensure a full analysis of St. Tammany’s coastline.
The parish hopes to prioritize projects for actual feasibility studies within 18 months.