A hurricane protection project intended to prevent backwater flooding in St. Charles Parish is among six proposals selected to get matching grant funding from the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

The Paradis Canal Gate, which will be placed in an opening in the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee, is a major part of the flood protection system designed for the parish.

When closed, the gate will work in tandem with the Magnolia Ridge Pump Station to protect the parish's west bank.

Parish President Larry Cochran called the project a "critical piece of flood protection" for the area.

The gate is estimated to cost about $5.1 million. The parish will use about $350,000 from RESTORE Act funding given directly to the parish and about $2.1 million in local funding.

The other half will be paid for with money from the Parish Matching Program, an initiative under the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority that offers money to help parishes complete critical flood control projects.

The program uses money set aside under the RESTORE Act, which allocates Clean Water Act fines from the BP oil spill for Gulf Coast restoration projects.

Specifically, the matching program is designed to help parishes leverage funding for projects that otherwise might not be completed, and to accelerate the timeline on projects that otherwise might have to wait to be fully funded out of RESTORE Act funds.

The coastal authority announced last week that $20 million in projects had been selected for funding in the program's first round.

In all, six protection and restoration projects totaling $6.1 million were chosen. In addition to St. Charles, they'll be constructed in Cameron, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Tangipahoa and Vermilion parishes.

To participate in the matching program, an eligible parish had to dedicate some of its own RESTORE funds to the project.

Projects were selected based on criteria such as consistency with the state's coastal master plan, the ability to restore and protect habitats or to reduce economic losses from storm surge, and the amount of money pledged by the parish for the proposed activity.

The coastal authority will work with the parishes to incorporate the projects into the State’s RESTORE plan, which will be published for public comment early next year.

Additional rounds of funding will be announced in the future, state officials said.

“We are always looking for ways to make parish and state funds go farther, and this program serves as an excellent model for how to partner at the state and local level to maximize project outcomes,” said Johnny Bradberry, chairman of the CPRA board.

St. Charles Parish grants officer Carla Chiasson called the program "very competitive." 

The hurricane protection system will be made up of multimillion-dollar pumps and earthen levees that St. Charles officials hope eventually will achieve 100-year-level protection for west bank residents.

That level would afford protection from flooding triggered by a "100-year hurricane," or a storm that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year.

It's designed to close a large gap in hurricane protection for the area between the Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion in Luling and La. 308 in Lafourche Parish.

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