St. Tammany advances $40 million reef project for Lake Pontchartrain shoreline protection

Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 6:37 PM CDT
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ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. (WVUE) - St. Tammany Parish progresses with its $40 million reef project, aimed at safeguarding a significant portion of the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline.

Residents who faced severe storm damage are hopeful for success.

For three decades, the Cousin family has owned a home on the lake’s edge, but Hurricane Katrina left nothing behind.

“Everything was gone. Everything gone from one side of the road to the other,” said Vincent Cousin, of Slidell.

Katrina’s waves devastated dozens of homes along the Slidell Lakefront, but parish authorities assure that help is on the way.

“[The reef] will be a breakwater about 400 feet off of the last docks with breaks in it based on Coast Guard requirements,” said Councilmember Jake Airey.

The parish council has already given the green light for artifical reefs near Lakeshore Villages, Carr Drive, and Lake Drive.

Now, the offshore protection is heading west.

The council recently allocated $345,000 to study the construction of an underwater reef and living shorelines near Big Branch Marsh in Lacombe.

The Gomesa offshore oil royalties will fund this phase of the project, but additional funding is necessary for the reef program, which many believe will offer crucial protection.

Residents are also seeking approval for a flood barrier across the Rigolets from the Corps of Engineers.

While the St. Tammany Council addresses heavy wave breaks during storms, they simultaneously work to protect the parish wetlands from further erosion. Some segments of the artificial reef, eventually stretching from Slidell to Madisonville in the lake, will be constructed using old bridge concrete materials.

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