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WILLOWRIDGE LEVEE TOWN HALL MEETING POWER POINT PRESENTATION
The West Bank of St. Charles Parish (west side of Mississippi River) is currently unprotected from storm surges associated with both hurricanes and high tide conditions. This portion of the parish is subjected to heavy rainfall, tidal surges from the Gulf of Mexico, and hurricane flooding resulting in structural, agricultural and environmental damages.
The project area has been declared a federal disaster area at least nine times since 1985 and has experienced several storm events causing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide disaster assistance to St. Charles Parish as recently as 2012.
Currently, levee projects either exist or are being constructed on each side of the project area. On the east side of the project area, a majority of the West Bank and Vicinity Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction Project
has been constructed and is scheduled for completion by 2011.
Southwest of the project are the Larose to Golden Meadow and the Morganza to the Gulf of Mexico Projects, currently existing or under construction. Construction of these projects will leave a gap in levee protection spanning from Bayou Lafourche to the Davis Pond West Guide Levee.
This gap, in effect, has the possibility to act as a funnel for storm surge. As storm surge is stacked up against the constructed levee projects located both to the east and west, it will begin to follow the natural ground contours of the unprotected portion of St. Charles Parish, thereby increasing storm surge elevations in the project area.
The St. Charles Parish Council
in October 2008 approved contracts with two experienced, knowledgeable firms, GCR & Associates and Burk-Kleinpeter Inc., to spearhead land acquisition for Phase II and Phase III of the levee, which will protect the Mimosa, Lakewood and Willowdale areas of Luling. These firms have also worked on the nearly-complete East Bank hurricane protection levee.
Parish officials continue to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on levee alignment and construction, solidifying a cordial working relationship. The parish wants to make sure it can receive credits for any work already completed on the West Bank hurricane protection levee when and if this project comes to fruition.
The parish took stock of Phase I of the West Bank levee, which is partially constructed in the Magnolia Ridge area of Boutte. Public Works and parish officials toured the levee in 2008 to find that it is not up to current Corps standards. Parish President St. Pierre has made it a priority to construct a levee that is at or above nationally-recognized Corps standards in order to protect all West Bank citizens from tidal flooding.
In 2009, St. Charles Parish officials submitted a permit application to appropriate regulatory agencies, including the Corps of Engineers, for Phase II of the West Bank hurricane protection levee, to be built south of Luling’s Willowridge and Willowdale subdivisions. The permit was received in July 2011.
Parish officials also entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Lafourche Levee District for the construction of levee Phases II and III.
Burk-Kleinpeter Inc. completed modeling work for Phase III of the levee, also known as the Ellington Phase. Phase III will join the partially-constructed Magnolia Ridge levee (Phase I) to Phase II south of Boutte.
Parish officials participated in the engineering review process and construction of the federal West Bank and Vicinity levee. The levee will run from Jefferson Parish (South of Highway 90) to the Davis Diversion guide levee and finally tie in to the Mississippi River levee in Ama.
WEST BANK HURRICANE PROTECTION LEVEE STATUS UPDATES May 2013:
The parish holds a town hall meeting to go over the entire West Bank levee system and plans for construction of the Willowridge Phase, for benefit of neighborhood residents that are to be impacted. See the Power Point presentation here
. Meeting video is embedded below.
March 2013: Parish announces the receipt of a permit for the Ellington Phase and an update on two other levee phases.
Phase II Willowridge: The plans and specifications for construction of the Phase II Willowridge levee are currently going through final reviews with the state. Following completion of the reviews, Parish President St. Pierre will be requesting that the Parish Council pass a resolution authorizing Public Works to publicly bid the project for construction. As part of the process, we are going to schedule a town hall meeting to discuss construction details and anticipated impacts to the residents. Be on the lookout for an announcement regarding that meeting soon.
Phase III Ellington: In another major milestone for the project, the Corps of Engineers issued a Section 10 and 404 permit for Phase III Ellington on March 6. This was the last permit necessary to authorize the project. The next step is to acquire the real estate for the project and complete the engineering and design of the levee. Both of these activities are currently underway and are anticipated for completion by mid-2014. In the meantime, the administration and Grants Office will continue to identify available funding sources to help get construction of this phase of the levee started as soon as possible.
Phase I Magnolia Ridge: The Corps of Engineers and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources are requiring a new permit to complete the levee and construct the pump station for Phase I. Public Works has submitted a revised permit application that is currently working its way through the agency reviews. If you live in the area, you may have received a notice from the Office of Coastal Management regarding the parish’s permit application. The benefit of having to re-permit the project is that it allowed the parish to re-evaluate the pump station parameters and work with the regulatory agencies to develop a drainage solution for landowners that have had an increase in standing water on their properties.
Overall Levee Comments: It is also important to note that the parish is currently working with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Lafourche Basin Levee District to have the entire West Bank system incorporated into the state’s Coastal Master Plan. This includes the Davis Pond West Guide Levee, the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee, the Sunset Drainage District Levee and a floodgate structure at Bayou Des Allemands. It is very likely that by the end of 2013, St. Charles Parish will have active permits for all three phases of the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee, be part of a larger project in the state’s Master Plan and be considered “shovel ready” when RESTORE Act funding becomes available. This is our best strategy to obtain protection for the entire West Bank of St. Charles Parish.
Contractors begin soil boring and testing work at the site of the Willowridge phase in anticipation of construction bids going out in early 2013.
St. Charles Parish expects to begin construction on the first lift of Phase II (Willowridge) in early 2013. Get all the details on available state and parish funding here.
SEE POWER POINT PRESENTATION FROM THIS MEETING
The parish has entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state for the project, which will provide $500,000 in state capital outlay funding in addition to funds the parish has budgeted. In addition, the parish also authorized the Lafourche Basin Levee District to purchase and/or expropriate land for the construction of the Willowridge Phase, and that process is moving forward.
October 2011: Project updates below are from the Hurricane Protection Projects Committee meeting.
Willowridge Real Estate Acquisition: The parish has contracted with two MAI appraisers and one MAI review appraiser to establish the fair market value of the required property. The two appraisers are in the final stages of preparing their reports, which will be reviewed for consistency with the appraisal requirements of the federal government by the review appraiser (Corps standards).
We anticipate the just compensation offers, based on the fair market value established by the appraisers, to be presented to the landowners by the beginning of November. The landowners can either accept the offer or present a counter offer that includes justification for any requested increase in compensation. It is anticipated that real estate negotiations will last between 30 and 90 days.
If negotiations fail, the parish, in cooperation with the Lafourche Basin Levee District, is prepared to acquire the property through “quick-take” expropriation. GCR has coordinated with Lafourche Basin Levee District regarding the presentation of the initial just compensation offers and the negotiation process for the real estate acquisitions. The acquisition of the required real estate interests to construct the levee is projected for January 2012.
Willowridge Construction Phasing: To date, BKI has coordinated with the administration and Public Works in order to develop and define a scope of work for the Phase I levee improvements that will enable construction within existing parish funding constraints. A topographic survey has been received, and select shallow borings have been drilled to ascertain the composition of the potential opposite-cast borrow material that will be used to construct the levee. Once the parish owns the right-of-way, additional deep borings will be drilled and analyzed in order to obtain a complete assessment of the soil strata composition as it relates to a proper stability analysis for the proposed levee.
Additionally, a sketch of the proposed scope of work and associated preliminary cost estimate have been established in order to define the engineering fees for the design of the Phase 1 improvements and provide the parish with budgetary funding numbers for planning purposes.
A design and construction schedule has been submitted to the Louisiana Department and Development (LADOTD) in order to comply with their requirements through the Statewide Flood Control program, which is funding a portion of construction. Presently, BKI is working
with the administration for the issuance of a formal task order to begin design of the Phase 1 omprovements, which will comprise the following scope of work items:
Clearing and grubbing of the entire levee right-of-way.
- Removal of organic material beneath the proposed levee footprint and creation of a small dewatering dike.
- Construction of an access road to serve the dual purpose of construction access and permanent maintenance within the 50-foot buffer zone between the drainage and levee servitudes.
- Excavation of a canal for purposes of obtaining opposite-cast borrow material.
- Excavation of a detention pond for the dual purpose of drainage maintenance and obtaining opposite-cast borrow material.
- Placement of opposite-cast borrow embankment obtained from the borrow canal and detention pond area to an elevation of +5 (note that the permitted height is elevation +7). Gaps will be left in the levee alignment at strategic locations in order to maintain natural drainage patterns to the marsh until such time as a permanent pump station is constructed and the entire system can be closed and isolated.
Ellington Hydraulic Model Findings: BKI anticipates completing the hydraulic modeling efforts by mid-November in order to properly respond to agency comments on the draft permit. This model will not only address issues related to the Ellington Phase III permit, but will also be a comprehensive West Bank model that will be calibrated by utilizing recent storm events such as Tropical Storm Lee and the December 2009 rain event in order to accurately simulate both rainfall and tidal events affecting the West Bank. This tool will enable the parish to target problem areas in a logical and fiscally responsible manner. Coincident with the mitigation calculation efforts, it is anticipated that all comments will be adequately addressed and a permit could be issued by the permitting agencies in the February - March 2012 timeframe.
Magnolia Ridge Wetland Assessment: The parish has been working with the Corps of Engineers to determine the hydraulic requirements necessary to maintain the health of the wetland areas between the levee and Highway 633. The purpose is to find a solution to flooding of yards and maintained properties on the east side of Highway 633. BKI and the parish are preparing a revised permit that will request that the water level along the Magnolia Ridge levee be maintained one foot to two foot lower than currently authorized to help alleviate the flooding concerns of residents in the area.
September 2011: Permission was granted for the parish to review the property for the Willowridge Phase in preparation for the appraisal. According to the law we have to have two appraisals and a third appraisal to oversee the first two to ensure they are fair. The council is going to have to appropriate funds through the parish council. The parish is going to have to tender and offer to the landowner based on the appraisal. If the landowner will respond, there is a possibility of continuing negotiations until a price has been settled upon. If they like the price, or if they're close to reaching a price, we do have the option to go a little big above and beyond the appraised value, according to the law. If the landowner and the parish reach an agreement in line with the appraisal, then the appropriate sale can be done as a cash sale through the parish council. The consent decree can then be modified by that agreement. If the landowner rejects the appraisal, then we will have to file suit for expropriation through the Lafourche Levee District on behalf of the parish. The owner will then have a short window after to contest the public's use of the need for expropriation. Once the suit has been filed and after the time period has passed, the levee district will own the property. In the interim, the parish can begin to modify the federal consent decree to include the construction of the levee along the northern alignment. Time constraints are up to the federal judge, but this is likely to take about eight months. Approval of the modified consent decree allows the parish to begin work.
July 2011: The parish receives notification that it will be appropriate $6.8 million in state funds to help build the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee over a number of years.
May 2011: The parish officially received a permit for Phase II of the levee (Willowdale Phase). The parish hopes to use budgeted funds to construct this phase to a +7 elevation.
February 2011: The St. Charles Parish Council approved $1.6 million in spending on wetlands mitigation for Phase II of the levee (Willowridge Phase). This is a final step in obtaining a permit to build the 10-mile-long stretch of levee.
September 2011: The
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued their Wetlands Value
Assessment (WVA) calculations of wetland impacts for the Willowridge
Two property owners sent a Letter of Intent Regarding Mitigation to DNR requesting on-site mitigation.
landowners now have a responsibility to author a conceptual mitigation
plan for DNR's consideration if they do not agree with the Parish's
proposed mitigation plant to buy credits from a mitigation bank as they
GCR officially requested the Corps' Wetland Value Assessment calculations.
The Corps advised that mitigation requirement letter including WVA calculations would be forthcoming.
October 2011: GCR
was informed that the Corps' WVA calculations had been completed by the
Permit Section and were awaiting approval by the Mitigation Section.
has followed up four to five times over the last two weeks regarding
the Corps mitigation requirement letter. Latest follow up was Oct. 15.
receiving the Corps' WVA requirements, GCR will provide to DNR and the
Corps the formal plan to buy the required credits from the Upper Bayou
Folse Mitigation Bank for all impacts of the project.
mitigation plan includes an environmental justification for electing to
use Upper Bayou Folse based on the following environmental
considerations: Both the impacts and the mitigation bank are located in
the coastal zone, both are subject to natural tidal exchange and Upper
Bayou Folse more closely replicates the wetland functions being lost
than any other bank because it can offer in-kind replacement and similar
GCR has completed the mitigation plan and
environmental justification and is prepared to submit it within two to
three days of receiving the Corps WVA calculations.
If the Corps
approves the provided environmental justification for using Upper Bayou
Folse, then both the Corps and DNR permits will be released.
WILLOWRIDGE PHASE II
The permit application for this phase was submitted in October 2009 and has been reviewed by various agencies for final compensatory mitigation requirements. This phase includes earthen levees, drainage canals, tidal exchange structures, concrete t-walls, and a drainage pumping station.
Agency Comments: All comments received from the commenting agencies have been addressed. In conversations with the various agencies, no other comments, outside of any potential resolution conflicts with the already received comments, will be provided. At this point in time, no known resolution conflicts exist. There are two comments that the parish had concerns about: Degrading the finger levee around the conservation easement and the requirement that the wetland mitigation be accomplished within 30 days of the issuance of the permit. Both of these issues have been resolved to the parish’s favor.
Corps of Engineers Status: All comments from the Corps of Engineers have been addressed. DNR is preparing a Wetlands Value Assessment that will be provided to the Corps of Engineers. Once the Corps receives this information they will get with EPA and the U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries and establish the value (number of acres to mitigate for each acre impacted). This is the last piece of information the Corps needs to complete their side of the permit.
DNR Status: All comments provided from DNR have been addressed. Comment resolution for the last set of DNR comments was provided on July 19, 2010. We are currently waiting on concurrence from DNR on those resolutions.
Preparation of Plans and Specifications: A fee proposal for surveys has been requested and received from Riverland Surveying Co. LLC. A fee proposal for soil borings and geotechnical designs has been requested of Eustis Engineering Company Inc.
GCR prepared notification letters on behalf of the Lafourche Basin Levee District (LBLD) to the three property owners impacted by the Willowridge alignment. Larry Buquoi, attorney for LBLD, approved the letters and returned signed copies to GCR by mail. On Aug. 9, 2010, the letters along with the required attachments were sent via certified mail to the property owners. Fifteen days following the mailing of the letters, the LBLD will have the authority to enter upon the landowners’ property to conduct surveying and investigative work. As a result, St. Charles Parish can issue an authorization to proceed to the surveying crews on Aug. 25, 2010.
On Aug. 3, 2010, GCR coordinated with Kirk Kilgen in the LDNR Mitigation Department to acquire a copy of a completed Biological Investigation Report as requested by Robert Tewis, the Project Manager for USACE, in order to finalize the mitigation requirements of the permit application and the Wetlands Value Assessment for the Corps permit.
Ellington Plantation Phase III: The permit application for this phase was submitted on July 1, 2010, went to public notice on October 23, 2010 and is currently under review by the various agencies. This phase includes earthen levees, drainage canals, tidal exchange structures, concrete t-walls, and a drainage pumping station.
A pre-application meeting was held with all agencies on May 27, 2010. The permit application was filed on July 01, 2010. DNR comments were responded to on July 22, 2010.
On Aug. 5, 2010, BKI and GCR facilitated a meeting with the Corps of Engineers for a wetland determination field visit to the Ellington Plantation alignment. In attendance at the meeting was Sam Scholle, Russell Tastet, Greg Schultz, Brandon Gaspard with USACE, Kirk Kilgen and Sara Krupa with LDNR, Harry Harlan and Russell Young with BKI and Lucas Lilly with GCR. Prior to the meeting GCR provided USACE and LDNR copies of maps delineating the wet/dry interface line based on in-house estimates. At the meeting, GCR received feedback on which areas within the alignment will be considered wetland areas for the project.
The meeting also served as a pre-application meeting with LDNR Mitigation Department to discuss the mitigation requirements and environmental impacts of the Ellington alignment. As a result, GCR corresponded with Kirk Kilgen in LDNR Mitigation Department, following the site visit regarding the impacts previously mitigated under the Magnolia Ridge CUP P1991399 issued in 2001. The purpose of the correspondence was to document the mitigation requirements already satisfied under the previous permit.
Magnolia Ridge Phase I: The earthen levee portion of this phase is partially constructed including a first lift. A second lift, tidal interchange structures and a major pumping station remain to be completed and are currently unfunded. A new permit application is currently being developed to complete the remaining work.
The draft permit has been prepared and posted on the DNR website. A meeting was held with the BNSF Railroad on Aug. 6, 2010. The railroad trestles and culverts need to be gated. Mr. Tim Huya (BNSF) was receptive to the plan for gating these openings under the railroad. He is to get back with us on differential head design restrictions and other details concerning these openings. The draft permit application will be revised to include all railroad openings between Paradis Canal and the Davis Pond West guide levee.
The parish has contacted the surveyor, Luis Martinez, about getting spot surveys of railroad and adjacent areas around the openings. These surveys would be performed within the next two weeks.
DNR is scheduling a pre-application field trip with the various agencies for Aug. 20, 2010.
Statewide Flood Control Application: GCR has coordinated with Holly Fonseca with the St. Charles Parish Grants Office to prepare a DOTD Statewide Flood Control Application for the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee. The funding application is an in-depth project document outlining the benefits, costs and need for the project. As required by the application, GCR sent letters on July 29, 2010 to federal and state reviewing agencies asking for comments on the project and the pre-application submitted by St. Charles Parish in 2008. GCR has taken the lead for the Statewide Flood Control Application on this project and anticipates a successful outcome based on preliminary discussions with DOTD officials. The application deadline is Oct. 1, 2010. Additionally, GCR provided GIS and AutoCAD files of the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee to Maurice Wolcott, a coastal GIS specialist with the LSU AgCenter extension for use in developing storm surge modeling.