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CPRA, St. Mary Levee District begin process to install barge flood gate on Bayou Chene

Posted at 3:44 PM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 16:45:38-04

A temporary barge floodgate is set to be installed on Bayou Chene ahead of the anticipated opening of the Morganza Spillway in June.

On Friday,  Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the St. Mary Levee District (SMLD) began the process to install a temporary barge flood gate on Bayou Chene.

Officials say that preparations are underway to have all necessary equipment and flood protection measures in place and ready for deployment. A barge has been identified and is readily available for installation.

Photo of Bayou Chene barge in 2011 / Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

On May 28, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to make a final decision on opening the floodway.

“While the final decision to operate the Morganza rests with the Corps of Engineers, we feel that its operation is almost certain, which is why we are leaning forward to put this critical flood protection measure in place,” said Gov. Edwards.

The anticipated spillway opening would not occur until June 2. The process of installing the barge would begin on Tuesday, May 28 and would take seven days. If the Morganza Floodway is opened, it could take up to two weeks before water travels down the Atchafalaya Basin and reaches Morgan City, giving CPRA and SMLD ample time to have the barge fully submerged and ready to lessen additional backwater flooding.

“To be clear, the barge flood gate on Bayou Chene will be in place by the time the spillway is opened,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “The CPRA has agreed to fully fund the sinking of the barge and is not asking any cost-share from the locally-affected parishes.”

Gov. Edwards, GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom and CPRA Chairman Kline will remain in contact with local parish officials in the affected coastal areas to update them on the most accurate and timely information.

Previously-determined rules call for the Morganza Control Structure to be operated to keep the water stage on the river side at or below 57 feet when there is a 10-day forecast of 1.5 million cubic feet per second and rising.

Gov. Edwards announced in late March that the state will spend $80 million to construct a permanent barge gate on Bayou Chene.