Corps addressing possible seepage issue on lakefront levee

Published: Apr. 12, 2013 at 9:19 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2013 at 9:19 PM CDT
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took back control of a large section of lakefront levee in order to ease a seepage threat.

Construction crews are back on the scene, not just to make the levee safer but to also light up an area that many say has been dark too long.

Seven years after Katrina, lakefront lighting is still non existent. But all that may be about to change east of Franklin avenue, as construction crews work on two projects.  One will bring electricity back to the light poles; the other will block possible seepage beneath levees designed to protect in from a 100 storm.

"In an abundance of caution we're doing additional work to increase the factor of safety," said Brad Drouant, the Corps' senior project engineer.

Work crews are spending $2.1 million  to drive 20-foot-long sheet piles into the base of a 36-hundred foot section of the lakefront levee.  "It is performing a seepage cutoff, but as it is now, it will defend against a 100-year storm. We are confident it will provide protection," said Drouant.

The stability of that levee has always been important but now could be more critical than ever, as a new flood control structure has been placed on the Industrial Canal below the Seabrook bridge.  That new control structure could cause more water to pile up against these levees, since it will no longer allow water to run from the lake into the canal during a hurricane.

Drouant said, "We anticipate the majority of the work for our project will be completed before hurricane season this year."

Once the work is finished, this section of levee will be returned to the control of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority. "We will complete the work, and notify them again that they can resume operations and maintenance," said Drouant.

Recreational fisherman Percy Pierce appreciates the Corps and U.S. taxpayers' investment in New Orleans levee protection. He says the system performed well during last year's Hurricane Isaac. "The best thing, the water didn't come in the city it went somewhere else," said Pierce.

And he says that's job one. But if they can get the lights back on too, that would be a big bonus.

The Orleans Levee District hopes to have the lights back on by mid-summer.