The levee authority for the West Bank, based on the advice of  a consulting engineer, isn’t convinced by a privately-funded study that concludes turf matting would not have to be replaced when levees are raised.

According to Giuseppe Miserendino, regional director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West, a matting manufacturer commissioned an engineering report by a firm called ARCADIS to evaluate the company’s plastic matting product.

The study suggested that if plastic matting were used to reinforce grass armoring on levees, it would not need to be removed when levees are lifted because it wouldn’t weaken the levee.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however, has said that matting would need to be removed before levees were lifted and reinstalled later, which would greatly increase the cost of lifts.

“To my surprise, [the report] contradicted what the corps has been saying all along,” said Miserendino.

Gerardo Viera, a member of the levee board, said during Monday’s meeting that the report had been reviewed and found inadequate by consulting engineers at Waldemar S. Nelson and Co.

“Even if the work that these people had done was 100 percent accurate, it’s not sufficient to change the practice of the industry,” said Viera.

According to Susan Maclay, president of the authority board, many of the levees on the West Bank are subsiding more quickly than on the East Bank. She said the authority is concerned about finding a way to armor levees that will not make lifts more expensive.

In other business, during Monday’s board meeting the authority approved $65,000 to hire a consultant to develop a strategic plan, discussed the Water Development Resources Act and announced an upcoming development concerning the East Bank levee authority’s lawsuit.

Members of the West Bank levee board were hopeful that the Water Resources Development Act will soon be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill will determine who has control of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex. If the bill is enacted, it would most likely mandate that the corps operate and maintain the structure. If the bill does not pass, the structure would be handed over to the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and local authorities.

Maclay also announced during the meeting that the Association of Levee Boards of Louisiana will determine its official stance on the coastal loss lawsuit in December.

Sarah Drew

Sarah Drew, a member of the Lens' Coastal Desk, covers flood protection agencies around New Orleans. She is a senior at Loyola University majoring in Mass Communications, with a concentration in Public...