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Cassidy: Lake Pontchartrain, flood control to benefit from the $1 trillion infrastructure package

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 7:18 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 15, 2022 at 12:50 PM CDT
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Lake Pontchartrain will benefit from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package.
Lake Pontchartrain will benefit from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Wind-energized waves on Lake Pontchartrain served as a backdrop for an announcement about how the lake and flood control efforts will benefit from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy worked with Democratic President Joe Biden and others to craft the infrastructure package which is now law. And because of it the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program, an entity created years ago by Congress, will get $10. 6 million a year for the next five years.

“To put that into perspective, historically the program has received about a million in federal funding,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy met with area leaders near the Causeway span to discuss new projects given the infusion of new federal funds.

“You could take a beach and you could build a beach, you may have some area in which it’s eroding and you want to stop that erosion, there’s another place where infrastructure is being threatened or perhaps has to be built, that is another example,” said Cassidy.

Mike Cooper is President of St. Tammany Parish.

“St. Tammany Parish has over 30 miles of shoreline on the beautiful Lake Pontchartrain and the monies that are available we will certainly maximize and make sure that we use the money for coastal restoration, flood protection,” said Cooper.

Kirk Lepine is Plaquemines Parish President.

“Even in an outlying parish of Plaquemines, we’re affected just like they are, so together we’ll work as one unity,” said Lepine.

Jefferson Parish is already working on developing more recreation along the lake and the federal infrastructure fund dollars could expand the goals for the lakefront.

Jennifer Van Vrancken is a Jefferson Parish councilwoman.

“Further down this levee system on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain Jefferson Parish is planning a new kayak and canoe launch, a living shoreline that will be both protective and recreational and replenish and nourish our lake,” she said.

Jeff Roesel leads the Regional Planning Commission.

“We are beholden to nature and we’re not pretending that we’re going to somehow control nature, but we have to work with nature. The lake again can be a very valuable asset for flood protection and for our overall community health,” he said.

Carlton Dufrechou is the general manager of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Commission.

“The problems that are still out there are infiltration inflow on the south shore in the stormwater collection system, wastewater problems actually from municipalities and from individual home systems and we’ve got habitat problems all over the place,” said Dufrechou.

Solidifying plans for the money sooner rather than later is important for a number of reasons.

“There’s an additional $1.9 million we’re able to get through the EPA Geographical Program for this current year but the sooner you have it the more I can go back to Congress and say look what good things we’ve done to benefit the region and our country and so then ask for further dollars in the future,” said Cassidy.

The federal money will also help to restore the ecological health of all the rivers and lakes that comprise the Pontchartrain Basin.

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