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County opposes levee construction plan in Louisiana

HANCOCK COUNTY — Mississippi officials are asking the federal government to thoroughly study the potential effects of any proposed new levee construction in southeast Louisiana.

Officials in Hancock County said they oppose a suggested 24-foot barrier levee that will close or partially close Lake Pontchartrain and protect St. Tammany Parish.

“This is way bigger than us,” said Supervisor Steve Seymour. “These son-of-a-guns in Louisiana are just looking to protect themselves. All they are doing is working their way to the east. It’s going to end up drowning us.”

The study, thus far, is a list of options from the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed to resolve problem flooding areas.

Mississippi officials are concerned that altering natural storm surge through levees, gates or other means will affect water levels in coastal areas.

Last month, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority requested comments on that proposal and others in its New Orleans East Land Bridge Study.

Garret Graves with Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Department said there are projects being undertaken to protect the shoreline, but that is all that is being done right now.

“There is a larger planning effort to construct some type of barrier,” he said. “That could put additional water into Hancock county, but we of course wouldn’t do a project that provides protection for Louisiana just to flood Mississippi.”

Graves said the planning commission includes several Mississippians to help look for solutions that would be in the best interest of both states.

“We don’t have any plans to send additional flood waters into Mississippi,” he said.

However, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., sent a letter to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration asking the agency to identify what impacts south Mississippians would feel if Lake Pontchartrain were closed off.

“When you look at the potential impacts that levee construction in Louisiana might have in South Mississippi, it’s extremely concerning. The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act that passed in the House last week included provisions that would require a thorough analysis of mitigation efforts like the ones being proposed by Louisiana,” Palazzo said.

Jackson County and the cities of Waveland and Bay St. Louis have all filed letters objecting to the proposal.

“We just want to be kept in the loop and be a part of the process,” Jackson County Board of Supervisors President Mike Mangum said Tuesday. “We are concerned and we want more information.”

In 2009, the Corps of Engineers issued its technical report on the Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan. In its review, the Corps noted the possibility of impacts to South Mississippi if new levees were built in South Louisiana.


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