Tammany leaders rally around bill to create new levee district - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Tammany leaders rally around bill to create new levee district

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Faced with tens of thousands of dollars in flood control bills, St. Tammany leaders say it's time to break away from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority.

They say their needs are too great, and the return, too small. But the authority questions the move.

Lake Pontchartrain was relatively tame lately, but that's not always the case.

"I've been here all my life," said Mandeville resident Darryl Taylor. "I've seen how the lakefront has gotten worse."

Northshore residents say it seems that each year they are faced with more flooding from the lake, and little is being done to address it.

"We haven't gotten a whole lot of attention out of the levee district," said Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere.

St. Tammany leaders are now supporting a move in Baton Rouge to break away from the regional flood authority that's supposed to protect them.

"The main goal is to give us more authority, mainly in the area of I-10 to the south," said St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister.

"I would hope that people don't feel that way," said Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority President Tim Doody. "We have reached out to them in a number of instances."

State Sen. Jack Donahue's bill would remove Tammany from the authority and let the parish  set up it's own levee district.

"Other parishes have done it - it's not a brand new thing, re-invent the wheel," said Brister.

The concept is welcome news for mayors in places like Mandeville, where mayors are facing tens of thousands of dollars in flood control bills which their counterparts on the northshore are not.

Slidell recently built it's own levee, and Mandeville is now spending $100,000 to study protection measures like new valves and floodwalls to keep lake water from backing up into drainage pipes, that backs up into neighborhoods.

"That number is $5 million to $30 million to add additional flood protection," said Villere.

Many believe a flood gate at the Rigolets is the ultimate solution.

"Putting something across the Rigolets, stops water from coming in, helps all of Lake Pontchartrain," said Villere.

But such a gate would cost up to $3 billion.    

Doody said, "No matter what happens we will have to work together to get the barrier, a lot of challenges, money being the big challenge."

While the southshore has seen billions of dollars in flood protection improvements, northshore residents say they've been left out.

"It's going four or five blocks, it's a major issue, and it should be solved," said Taylor.

But how to go about it, remains a challenge.

Bill sponsor Jack Donahue says the measure to remove St. Tammany from the Southeast Louisiana flood authority, will likely get its first legislative committee test, in about two weeks.

Copyright 2014 WVUE.All rights reserved.
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