This Army Corps of Engineers photo shows early clearing work along the path of the new West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee. The Army Corps of Engineers will hold online public hearings on May 11 and 12 on an environmental study of a plan to use the proposed Maurepas Swamp freshwater diversion to mitigate such damage caused by levee construction.
(Army Corps of Engineers) Army Corps of Engineers

Two virtual hearings will be held by the Corps about the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee.

The Army Corps of Engineers will hold two virtual public meetings next week to gather comments on a revised study of the environmental effects of building the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain hurricane levee. The study, re-released April 15 to correct a description of the permit process for the proposed diversion of the Mississippi River into Maurepas Swamp, describes how the Corps will use the diversion to mitigate environmental damage caused by the levee’s construction. The meetings will be held May 11, at 6 p.m., and May 12, at 10 a.m.

In effect, this is a replacement action as it replaces wetlands that are being destroyed.

The diversion, which will move 2,000 cubic feet per second of freshwater from the river to the swamp, will improve wetlands in the same area where they will be destroyed by the $1.2 billion levee. The levee is already under construction along the edges of the 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 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. 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.

To attend, the following is information on the meetings.

The meetings will be conducted via WebEx and simultaneously streamed on the district’s Facebook page. Log in information for the meetings is available on the project’s website, as are the report and supporting information.  Individuals may also dial these toll-free numbers to access each meeting: Wednesday, May 11, at 6 p.m., 1-844-800-2712, meeting number 2762 265 1486. Thursday, May 12, at 10 a.m., 1-844-800-2712, meeting number 2760 486 9415. 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 The public comment period ends May 31.

If you have comments, this is the time to speak out.

West Shore levee environmental study hearings