LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Calcasieu River is closed at the Saltwater Barrier right now and will stay closed beyond the Fourth of July holiday. That’s due to repairs underway. Some residents are upset with the timing, though officials with the u.s. Army corps of engineers say it cannot be helped.
The river is a favorite place to be during the summer and especially holiday weekends. But it’s closed at the Saltwater Barrier because they had to drain it to make repairs, and it will stay closed until they are finished and add back the water.
Ricky Boyett with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the gates had to be refurbished and it took longer than expected. They hoped to be finished with the project in May.
“Unfortunately, when they pulled the gates the duration of repair, as our contractor told us was much longer than anticipated, so we’re just now getting the gates back so, we’re moving forward. They key is we have to get the gates and repair work completed before the water gets too salty,” he said.
Though some people say the timing is bad for recreation, Boyett says they had to move ahead with the work to avoid damage from saltwater.
“The Saltwater Barrier is designed to prevent saltwater intrusion from moving up the Calcasieu River. It prevents damage to areas that are saltwater sensitive, like agricultural areas,” he said.
Ben Garber lives on the river and admits it is an inconvenience. But he says he understands the urgency of finishing the work.
“We really need the gates in the summer and the fall, to prevent the saltwater from backing up into the river and causing saltwater intrusion. Saltwater is what kills all the cypress trees and that’s why everything’s green. Unfortunately, I think they couldn’t push it back anymore, because that would have pushed the dates into the fall which would have been a lot more saltwater intrusion,” said Garber.
Once the work is finished, Corps officials say it will likely be 15 to 20 years before major maintenance is needed again. The river is to open around July 11.