Calcasieu saltwater barrier hours, study to be discussed at Wednesday meeting

WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District is hosting a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the reduction of service hours at the Calcasieu River Saltwater Barrier and the status of the Calcasieu Lock Navigation Improvements feasibility study, according to officials.

The meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Managan Center at 1000 McKinley Street in Westlake.

Officials say that Corps representatives will discuss the 2013 proposed operating hours for the Calcasieu River Saltwater Barrier and provide a status update and explanation of the Calcasieu Lock feasibility study.

Following the presentation, project managers and engineers will be on hand to respond to questions and take comments.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting and to provide comments on the project(s). Written comments and requests for additional information should be addressed to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

c/o Public Affairs Office

Post Office Box 60267

New Orleans, Louisiana 70160-0267

The following background information was provided by Corps officials:

Background information: Standard Levels of Service at USACE Locks

Beginning December 30, 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District is reducing service hours at the Schooner Bayou Control Structure, the Calcasieu River Saltwater Barrier, the Berwick Lock and the Calumet Floodgate.

Reduction in levels of service is a result of a nationwide effort to maximize constrained funding and provide consistent levels of service throughout the Corps' Inland Marine Transportation System consisting of 12,000 miles of inland waterways and 200 locks and dams. The cost savings from these efforts will be applied to dredging functions and maintenance of locks to reduce closures and improve system reliability.

Background information: Calcasieu Lock Feasibility Study 

Calcasieu Lock, located on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Calcasieu Parish, prevents saltwater intrusion from the Calcasieu River into the Mermentau River basin, a major rice producing area.  Calcasieu Lock, which was completed in 1950, has dimensions of 13 by 75 by 1,206 feet and is structurally sound.  However, navigation delays are occurring due to its authorized use to drain floodwaters from the Mermentau River Basin during flood events.  IWW Locks, Louisiana, a reconnaissance study completed in 1992, also determined that there is a need for capacity increases at Bayou Sorrel and Calcasieu Locks. The completed Calcasieu Lock Section 905(b) analysis found a benefit-cost ratio of 1.2:1 for provision of a new lock and recommended proceeding with feasibility phase studies. The purpose of the current study is to determine the feasibility of reducing navigation delays caused by drainage events at the Calcasieu Lock.