A swamp buggy in the path cleared for the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee, in 2019. (Army Corps of Engineers)
Army Corps of Engineers

The Corps has restarted the 45 days seeking public comments on this project.

The Army Corps of Engineers on Friday restarted a required 45-day public comment period on a revised study of the environmental effects of building the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee. The study was withdrawn by the Corps on April 5 to correct wording describing the permitting process for the proposed diversion of Mississippi River water into the Maurepas Swamp, a project the agency hopes will mitigate environmental damage caused by the levee’s construction. If the state had built the diversion project separately, that project would have needed separate Corps permits, officials have said. Since the Corps is now considering it as part of the levee project, those permits are no longer required.


This is based on a recent decision to combine the projects which may save some money but eliminated two environmental studies.

The diversion will improve wetlands in the same area as where wetlands will be destroyed by the $1.2 billion levee, which is already under construction along the edges of Maurepas Swamp on the east bank of the Mississippi River in St. Charles, St. John and St. James parishes. The Corps originally rejected the Maurepas diversion as mitigation because its estimated $200 million cost was much more than the amount of mitigation needed for the levee. But it reconsidered after state officials made clear that they only planned on counting a portion of the diversion’s cost toward the local share of levee construction costs. State officials say that portion shouldn’t be more than $120 million. The diversion’s actual construction costs will be paid by money the state will receive from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill environmental restoration program.

There will be virtual public meetings, I am glad the Corps has kept this meeting option from the pandemic. It makes sense as they can get more people from more places.

The Corps will schedule several virtual public hearings on the revised environmental report in the near future. The new West Shore levee is aimed at protecting the river parishes from hurricane storm surges. It will also be elevated over the next 50 years to deal with future sea level rise, officials said. Public comments or requests for reprints of the revised environmental document can be submitted to Landon Parr, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Planning Branch, Regional Planning and Environmental Division South, CEMVN-PDC-C, 7400 Leake Ave., New Orleans, 70118. Comments can also be submitted by e-mail to: mvnenvironmental@usace.army.mil. The report and supporting information are available online at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District website: https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/NEPA-Compliance-Documents/Bipartisan-Budget-Act-2018-BBA-18/West-Shore-Lake-Pontchartrain/

If you have thoughts, please comment.

Public comment needed for West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee environmental study