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Bill proposed to create St. Tammany Parish levee board

In 2006, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East was created after a constitutional amendment was passed by voters. That levee board works to improve flood protection efforts in several parishes, including Orleans, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany.

One parish, St. Tammany, wants to withdraw from the SLFPA-E and create its own levee district. Sen. Jack Donahue has submitted a bill that would create the St. Tammany Levee, Drainage and Conservation District. The president of the parish says that the district hasn't seen any improvements or north shore projects since the SLFPA-E was created. In addition, the president says that there wasn't any federal money spent on improvements -- even though $14.5 billion has been spent on projects in the area of New Orleans since 2005.

While she says she understands that improvements were needed in the south shore area, the president says there is still an urgent need for flood barriers at Chef Menteur Pass and Rigolets. A gate structure and barrier is supposed to be designed in the area as part of the state's coast restoration plan. Unfortunately, there is not currently enough money.

Tim Doody, the president of the SLFPA-E board, says that while he understands that the leaders of St. Tammany Parish want to make their own flood protection decision, he had hoped that the parishes in the New Orleans area would stay together. St. Tammany doesn't have a funding source for flood projects like many of the other parishes in the SLFPA-E do. Sen. Donahue said that the parish hasn't reaped any benefits from being a member of the SLFPA-E, it has also not contributed any money into it.

The president of St. Tammany parish also said that she is concerned about all the time the SLFPA-E has put into its lawsuit against almost 100 oil and gas companies. That suit seeks to hold the companies responsible for the damage and injury to the state's coastal regions because of dredging operations and canal and pipeline building. Those with environmental concerns, such as the SLFPA-E, often find that legal action is required to hold companies accountable for environmental damages.

The proposed bill, if passed, will require that Gov. Bobby Jindal appoint nine board members, with specifications as to where the board members are from. Confirmation from the Senate would be required for the appointees. The Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works is where the bill was referred.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "St. Tammany Parish wants to pull out of Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East" Robert Rhoden, Mar. 13, 2014

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