Photo by: St. Mary Parish Levee District

$80M protecting 30,000. The Bayou Chenn floodgate is now up and running.

Gov. John Bel Edwards joined officials with the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the St. Mary Levee District to celebrate completion of construction of the new Bayou Chene Floodgate near Morgan City, which will reduce backwater flooding from the Atchafalaya River in the area.  “This region has relied on temporary measures to prevent backwater flooding since the 1970s,” Edwards said in a news release. “With the completion of this decades-long effort, the people of St. Mary and the five surrounding parishes can rest easier knowing they’re protected by a permanent flood control structure.” The floodgate will be used when the river is high, usually in the spring. Congress requires the Atchafalaya River basin and floodway to get 30% of the flow of the Mississippi River at the Old River Control Structure upriver of Baton Rouge; during high-river periods, that can result in backwater flooding that threatens 30,000 residents in St. Mary, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Martin, Assumption and Iberville parishes.

This is the permanent fixture to a problem that has had three temporary solutions that worked, sometimes.

Temporary versions of the floodgate have been used during previous highwater periods. The coastal authority and the levee district built the permanent 446-foot-wide gate with $80 million that the state received from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. “The three previous emergency closures were successful, but costly and risky,” said Tim Matte, the executive director of the levee district. “Now with the completion of the permanent structure, we can close the Bayou in a timely manner, with minimal impacts to the navigation interests, minimal risk to the team members, and with minimal environmental impacts to the region.”

More protection with more to come in the near future.

Bayou Chenne floodgate working and protecting