St. Tammany begins new push to stop storm surge - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

St. Tammany begins new push to stop storm surge

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New Orleans, La. -

The president of St. Tammany parish is in Washington, D.C. seeking flood control money she believes is long overdue.

Parish officials say while other areas are getting billions of dollars, the northshore is being left out.

Meantime, St. John parish officials went before the state coastal authority Wednesday to pitch their plan for a new $850 million levee.

"We favor alignment D," said Steve Wilson with the Pontchartrain Levee district.

The problem is the Corps of Engineers prefers alignment C; $10 million cheaper.

John Faust, a potential candidate for the flood protection authority, says an enhanced levee from New Orleans East, to Slidell with low dams at Chef Pass and the Rigolets, could ease the need for other levees and protect St. Tammany and other parishes around Lake Pontchartrain.

It's a plan being pushed by St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister who went to Washington to meet with three members of the state's congressional delegation.

"It's vitally important for us," Brister told FOX 8. "We need to start talking about it."

Brister is worried about the impacts the St. John levee will put on St. Tammany and the costs which could cut into available money for a surge barrier that would benefit the entire Pontchartrain basin.

"I really don't think building one little levee at a time is the way to do it," Brister said.

As the plan moves forward to keep that water out of homes in St. John Parish, the plan at this point is not a done deal.

Public comment will be taken for the next 45 days, and then it will be studied under a new fast track plan.

St. John officials are hopeful that the push for a New Orleans to Slidell barrier won't stand in the way of an 18 mile levee that's been looked at for four decades.

The state coastal authority supports both the levees and the barrier, but corps officials say funding for the barrier is nowhere in sight.

Pat Brister says she got a commitment from three members of the congressional delegation to support the barrier project. She also says Sen.  David Vitter has promised to start discussing the issue with officials in Mississippi worried about possible impacts there, though she believes those impacts are overblown.

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