Louisiana Budget

Louisiana House Appropriations Chairman Jerome "Zee" Zeringue, R-Houma, talks on the phone in this file photo from June 2020. He sought to steer the remaining federal pandemic aid dollars to areas that represented a "pressing need" during the Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. 

State Rep. Jerome "Zee" Zeringue, R-Houma, former executive director of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, has proposed a plan for parishes most harmed by the levee breach event in 2005 to shoulder the entire cost.

It seems that in 2009, an agreement was struck under former Gov. Bobby Jindal. The federal government would pay the full cost of "rebuilding" the system that failed catastrophically. However, improvements to the system, such as floodgates and pumping stations, would be cost-shared, with the state paying 35%.

This is outrageous.

The system in place when Hurricane Katrina's moderate storm surge arrived was destined to fail. And it should have included gates with pumps to keep water out of New Orleans.

After that spectacular failure, the Army Corps of Engineers built the system that should have been built in the first place. And it does include the needed gates and pumps. But now the state is required to pay 35% for them. That alone is outrageous.

But now, for that burden to be placed on the backs of the residents of Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes is insane.

And we haven't even discussed the fact that the new system comes with an annual billion dollar maintenance bill which these same parishioners must pay.

Louisiana House wants New Orleans, surrounding parishes to help pay multi-billion levee debt

Furthermore, the Corps built the new system with virtually zero input from the local levee authorities.

The first goal of the Legislature should be to ask the federal government to do the right thing and pay for the improvements, which may be possible with the new administration.

If not, then the state should shoulder the responsibility. The entire state benefits from a flood protection system at the Port of New Orleans.

Those who survived the levee breach event have suffered enough.

H.J. BOSWORTH JR.

lead researcher, Levees.org

SANDY ROSENTHAL

founder, Levees.org

New Orleans