U.S. Corps of Engineers eliminates projects

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - How to solve the flooding problems within the Calcasieu River Basin has been the task for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"First thing we did was collected cross-sectional survey data for all the streams in the area," said Nick Sims, Corps of Engineers project manager.

Hired by the city and the parish, the 2.3 million dollar study has several phases. The majority of that money analyzing the cost-benefits for the Corps to continue consideration.

"Our benefits must outweigh the costs of constructing the project," said Sims.

Suggestions ranged from a combination of dredging, pump stations, detention ponds, sediment clearing and culvert replacement. After further analyzation all of the projects within the city limits have been eliminated.

"We just did not see the lowering in the flood stages that we needed to move forward. We just didn't see flooding in enough areas with structures," explained Sims.

This despite nearly ten million dollars in reported damages reported along the Contraband Bayou.

"Can you kind of lay it out why dredging wouldn't work. I get a lot of calls since the hurricanes... People were asking why we can't dredge," asked Councilman John Ieyoub.

While the proposed dredging would reduce the flood stage - it's not enough to meet federal guidelines for funding. Not satisfied, Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach feels the process is counterproductive.

"Why can't we be proactive. If we know that we have a flooding problem, if we know it's a major problem and we know it reduces flooding stages. Why does the land have to go and be developed and then flood. As long as it's on the inside of the city limits and we know it's going to be developed... Why can't we factor that into your cost benefit ratio," said Mayor Roach.

"We don't really know for sure if that will be developed and until there actually is a structure there, that they're impacting - because of how our economic analysis works. We don't have it in there," said Sims.

For now the study is ongoing with the Black Bayou and Hippolyte Coulee tentatively selected as projects by the Corps at a projected cost of 600-thousand dollars.

There's several more steps before the projects can get congressional approval. If approved there's a 65 to 35 cost share agreement.

Copyright 2009 KPLC. All rights reserved.